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The results of a 2001 study by Prevent Blindness America show over 38,000 people experienced a sports related eye injury and needed emergency room treatment and, in some cases, even further attention. Some of the highest rates of eye injuries occur in children between the ages of 5 to 14. It’s also important to remember that even if an eye injury seems to be minor it may be serious. Loss of vision, severe pain or tenderness and cuts around the eye require immediate medical attention.

If your child plays a sport that requires a helmet or faceguard, don’t make the mistake of thinking your child’s eyes are protected from injuries. Your child’s eyes are still exposed to danger from sports equipment, or an opponent’s fingers penetrating the openings of a facemask. Likewise, if your child wears glasses, everyday fashion eyewear is not held to the same protective standards as regulation eyewear products labeled as protective eyewear for sports use. The lens in your child’s regular eyeglasses could easily pop out and puncture or cut the eye. A frame mangled from impact could also injure the eyes and ocular region of the face.

The good news is that you can help prevent your child from being sidelined because of a serious eye injury. You can make the decision to protect their eyes as well as the rest of their body by adding protective sport goggles to their equipment bag. While sport goggles provide significant protection, they cannot be guaranteed too be unbreakable nor can they guard against all foreseeable impacts. However, a quality pair of sport goggles, equipped with polycarbonate lenses, can be sight savers since they help the eyes and surrounding ocular region safe. For kids who need corrective prescription lenses, your eyecare professional can make a pair of prescription lenses that fit into their sports goggle. Don’t wait for your child to become the next eye injury statistic…add protective sport goggles to their sports gear.

Paul Berman is a private practice optometrist located in Hackensack, New Jersey. He has been in practicing over 25 years. A past chair of the Sports Vision Section of the AOA, Paul was the 1998 New Jersey Optometrist of the Year and the 2000 Sports Vision Optometrist of the Year. He has been a consultant for Olympic teams and professional organizations including the New Jersey Nets, New York Giants, and he is currently advising the New Jersey Devils. Dr. Berman has been a member of the faculty of the State University of New York, State College of Optometry and has lectured internationally on sports vision. He is most proud of being the founder and global clinical director of Special Olympics Opening Eyes; a program devoted to making people with mental retardation around the world see better. Recently, Dr. Berman was the recipient of the American Optometric Association’s Sports Vision Optometrist of the Year Award.