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According to the National Eye Institute, eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in the U.S. Most injuries occurring in school-age children are sports-related and account for an estimated 100,000 physician visits per year at a cost of $175 million. But these injuries are preventable; an estimated 90 percent of sports-related eye injuries can be avoided with the use of protective eyewear.
Youth eye protection must start with parents and coaches advising children to wear protective glasses during sporting events. Proper eyewear is crucial to insuring protection from sports-related injuries in children. Today’s athletes are not allowed to play football without a helmet or hockey without pads, so why allow them to play other sports without eye protection? Even a novice 12-year-old squash player can hit a ball at 80 mph, yet most youth sports leagues don’t require the use of eye protection.
Even games without small, fast moving objects – such as a baseball – pose a serious risk to the vision and eye health of the participants. Basketball is responsible for more than 2,500 eye injuries in children ages 5 to 14 and accounts for 32 percent of eye injuries in teens and young adults. It is not usually the ball that causes these injuries, but the fingers and elbows of other players.
The appropriate eye protection varies based on the sport that your child plays; you wouldn’t want them to wear the same amount of protection needed for soccer when playing hockey. A full list of what level eye protection your child needs for a particular sport is available to make sure you find the appropriate eye protection.
For sports that don’t require helmets and full face guards such as football and hockey, the National Eye Institute recommends the use of protective, durable and impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses while playing sports. One such lens is Airwear, which are 20 percent thinner, 30 percent lighter, and 10 times more impact resistant than standard plastic lenses – they are the most impact resistant lenses on the market. For sports played outside, the Airwear lenses can be paired with Crizal’s No-Glarelenses to give the wearer 25 times more UV protection than going without eyewear. Not only will your child be protecting their eyes, they may also be improving your game.