Play Safe, Protect Your Eyes

Sport is now the biggest cause of hospital admission for serious eye injury in the UK and it’s not just the obvious sports that pose a risk.

Every year around 50 people are rushed to hospital with acute eye injuries sustained whilst trampolining!

However, it’s racket sports that pose a particular danger and account for thousands of eye injuries a year. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) estimates that squash balls alone are responsible for 2,000 hospital admissions in the UK each year, while squash rackets account for around 2,400.

In fact, one in three squash players is likely to suffer some form of eye injury during their playing career as the size of the ball and the velocity at which the game is played make the eyes particularly vulnerable.

Other sporting eye injury statistics include 2,153 people attending hospital with an eye injury sustained from a football or basket ball; 346 with an injury inflicted by a hockey stick; 392 caused by a shuttlecock; and 458 as a result of being hit in the face with a rugby shaped ball.

Are your eyes fit for sport?

The first safety measure to consider before taking part in any sporting activity is to check up on your visual ability with an eye examination. This is also the perfect opportunity to find out more about protective eyewear.

Before having your eyes examined, explain to your practitioner the reason for your visit. Maybe you already wear spectacles or contact lenses and want to find out if they will be suitable for your sporting activity. Many people don’t wear their glasses when playing sport. Alternatively, you may have been experiencing poor vision or headaches while taking part in sport.

By telling your practitioner your needs, you will receive the best practical solution for your visual requirements, thus ensuring your comfort and safety when playing sport.

The best choice for you

Choosing the right visual aid for sport is just as essential as choosing the right equipment or accessories. Just two examples of the benefits that can be gained from making the right choice are the specially designed spectacles developed to help top ranking snooker players and the prescription glazed goggles used by swimmers.

Of course, spectacles aren’t always the right option for playing sports. It would be impractical to use them in activities where physical contact is involved, or if the lenses are likely to get wet or steamed up. Contact lenses are the practical solution to these problems.

Soft contact lenses are the best for most vigorous sports. Most people wear them for the duration of sporting activities even if they don’t wear contact lenses for normal daily use. But remember contact lenses provide very little eye protection. They should be worn, when necessary and appropriate, in conjunction with protective goggles.

The way to clearer, safer vision

Certain sports are best performed with the protection of special frames or goggles. Squash, for instance, requires goggles which protect the temples and bridge of the nose as well as the eyes.

Guidelines for frames

• Lightweight, yet strong enough to resist strong impact.

• Could be fitted with side pieces that curl securely behind the ears.

• Should be fitted with elasticated sports band.

• Metal frames should be fitted with a padded bridge.

• Specially designed goggles are preferable

Guidelines for lenses

• Should be made from impact– resistant plastic or, preferably, polycarbonate

• Glass lenses should be avoided but, if used, should be toughened or laminated

• For indoor use, lenses should not be tinted and should be coated to reduce reflection from lights

• Polycarbonate, tougher than other materials, must be used for squash

Seek Professional Advice

If you play sport and you’re unsure about how best to protect your vision, make sure you play safe and consult your local optometrist for professional advice.

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