Whether they are helping judge a sharp turn down the ski slope or when to hit an oncoming pitch, eyes are key players in all sports activities. So, no matter what sport or sports a child plays, they should always have one thing in common: playing defense when it comes to the eyes.
Nearly all sports pose some type of risk for eye injury. By making the right moves in protecting a child’s eyes can significantly lessen the risk of eye injury, and even give them a competitive edge by increasing performance. Here are a few tips that can help keep a child’s eyes protected and well equipped no matter what sports they play:
Baseball: Protect the head from a wild pitch, thrown bat or pop-fly ball by investing in a face guard made of polycarbonate, an impact-resistant plastic, and encourage the child to wear eye guards.
Basketball, tennis, racquetball and soccer: Also encourage eye guards to safeguard from flying elbows, fingers and balls as well as wayward elbows, feet and even racquets.
Football: As a full-contact sport, football dictates that all players should wear eye guards and face shields to prevent injury. Triple-check this is always the rule and never the exception.
Hockey: Invest in a high-quality mask to defend from flying sticks, pucks and players.
Tennis or Racquetball: Eye guards should be worn to guard eyes from a misjudged ball or flying racquet.
Skiing: If a contact lens wearer, make sure the child has sports lenses on hand. Sports lenses are often made of polycarbonate materials with appropriate coatings for the lighting, which are the best way to safely shield the eyes from wind, snow, sun and glare.
Swimming: Again, eye guards are excellent here to help keep lake, ocean and chemically treated pool water from getting in the child’s eyes. In addition, encourage children to take out their contact lenses before swimming. Bacteria and other microorganisms that live in water have a better chance of giving an eye infection if swimming while wearing contacts.
Hiking or Camping: Keep an eye out for insect bites and poison ivy, oak and sumac, all of which will be a nightmare if they make contact with the child’s eyes. Also ensure they keep any sunscreens or repellents clear from their eyes as both can cause long-term damage.
If an eye injury occurs, seek immediate medical attention from an eye care professional, especially if there is pain, blurred vision or loss of vision.
Dr. John Lahr is the medical director at EyeMed Vision Care, which administers Delta Dental of Arizona’s DeltaVision plans, and has 48 years of experience in eye care delivery and vision care.