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When the crowd in the stands is cheering you to victory, do you really have time to think about your eyes? It’s easy to take them for granted, but without our eyes, it would be difficult — and sometimes impossible — to play the sports we love. In the United States, experts estimate more than 100,000 eye injuries related to sports and recreation occur each year, so it’s not surprising to hear about them in the news.
You might have seen former Villanova University basketball player Allan Ray’s eye injury, which frequently appears on lists of the most cringe-worthy or gruesome sports injuries of all time. Ray was poked in the eye by an opponent during a tournament game; it appeared that Ray’s eye had popped out of its socket, but actually, his eyelid was forced behind his eye, resulting in soft tissue damage.
Recently, New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal suffered facial fractures after being struck in the eye with a hockey puck — and the injury has taken him out of the game indefinitely. Marc’s accident has convinced his brothers, who also both play professional hockey, to wear protective visors.
Eye injuries not only affect the pros and all-stars, they’re also the leading cause of blindness in children. Baseball accounts for the largest number of eye injuries in children ages five to 14, while basketball is responsible for the largest number of eye injuries in 15- to 24-year-olds. Most eye injuries in baseball result from hits to the eye with the ball, and in basketball, most are due to eyes being poked by fingers and elbows.
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The good news is that 90 percent of serious eye injuries are preventable through the use of appropriate protective eyewear. Protective eyewear made of polycarbonate is 10 times more impact resistant than standard plastic without compromising on vision. If your child wears glasses or contact lenses, there are protective eyewear options that can be made to match their prescriptions.