Eye protection in Sports:
Luxury or Necessity?
A past article in The Providence Journal-Bulletin is of interest to all sports enthusiasts and the parents of budding sport stars. It reminds us all of the dangers inherent with life in general and sports in particular. Are our youngsters protected from real danger on the playing field? In the "Tuesday Healthbeat Section" of the April 20, 1993 edition of Tile Providence Journal- Bulletin, is an article still relevant today by Jane E. Brody
"Shield your eyes when playing sports"
Ms. Brody called to mind some of the forgotten dangers of bike riding, basketball, tennis, football, and our most beloved sport, BASEBALL. Recalling some of the more famous injuries to the eye, she reminds us of the late Boston Red Sox star TONY CONIGLIARO whose career was cut short when a fastball broke his cheekbone and severely injured his eye in 1967. Could eye protection have eased his injury? Of course, no one knows for sure. But the vast improvements in protective eyewear could make the difference today. With balls traveling at speeds topping 90 miles per hour, it makes sense to take advantage of the protection available. Even our youngest players face balls coming at them in the 60 to 70 mph range, a scary thought indeed! "Partly because of the large number of participants," Brody writes, "baseball ranks among the top activities for sports related...."eye injuries. There is an increased danger of eye injuries in all sports activities....INCLUDING GOLF! The small golf ball is the perfect size to inflict debilitating injury and is a very common eye injury in adults!"
YOUR EYES WILL NOT BE PROTECTED BY ORDINARY PRESCRIPTION GLASSES OR SUNGLASSES WHETHER THE LENSES ARE GLASS OR PLASTIC
Regular lenses and frames may serve to increase your risk because the frames and lenses are not made to withstand the impact expected in a pitched or hit ball, puck, racquet, stick, or even aggressive body contact play. Useless also are lens-less and open eye guards. Even balls that are larger than the opening traveling at only 50 mph can squeeze into the frame and hit the eye. Fortunately, for most sports there is the availability of additional eye protection. Tennis and badminton players may use the same type of eye guards made for squash and raquet ball. (Some of these same eye guards are ideal for other sports such as baseball, basketball, and football, making a single purchase an option for the multi-talented) Most have adequate provision for good peripheral vision, but make sure the wearer checks for potential "blind spots". Most vital to the protection of your eyes is the inclusion of POLYCARBONATE LENSES In the sports eyewear of your choice. When polycarbonate lenses are used with thicknesses at a minimum of 2 - 3 millimeters, these super impact resistant lenses may even stop a bullet. They are scratch resistant (they cannot be processed into prescription without a scratch coating) and inherently absorb ultraviolet light, protecting you from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. They may be made to your prescription or used without a prescription over contacts or normally sighted eyes. Swimmers also need protection from chlorine combined with ammonia from the skin (chloramines) and high and low acid levels of pool water, mechanical irritation caused by waves and debris in open water and pool water, and the corneal swelling experienced by almost all pool swimmers within 30 minutes. Good quality water-tight goggles are a good investment! Unfortunately, the sports that put eyes at tile greatest risk (boxing and full contact karate) have no truly effective device for eye protection....yet.