AAO reminds athletes to wear proper eye protection

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is reminding the public that 40,000 sports-related eye injuries occur every year for Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month, which is April.

San Francisco-The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is reminding the public that 40,000 sports-related eye injuries occur every year for Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month, which is April.

"It's absolutely necessary for athletes to use protective eyewear because eye injuries can be devastating," said Ruth Williams, MD, glaucoma specialist at the Wheaton, IL, Eye Clinic, and clinical correspondent for the AAO. "Unfortunately, many athletes feel they don't need protective eyewear or that injuries are uncommon."

Besides abrasions of the cornea and bruises of the lids, retinal detachments and internal bleeding can be caused by sports injuries, and more seriously, permanent vision loss along with infection. In addition, patients who have sustained eye injuries are at greater risk for developing glaucoma.

Children's sporting leagues don't always require athletes to wear eye protection, so it is the parents' responsibility to take special precautions. Sports that do offer eye protection include basketball, baseball, hockey, football, lacrosse, fencing, paintball, water polo, and golf, among others.

"Wearing properly fitted protective eyewear will not harm your performance in a game, and it may well save your sight," said Dr. Williams.