5 Tips to Protect Your Young Athletes’ Eyes

September 11, 2023

90% of eye-injury-related ER visits can be avoided if an athlete wears protective eyewear.

Nearly 30,000 people suffer sports-related eye injuries every year, requiring an ER visit. Even low-intensity sports pose some risk for eye injuries.

From basketball to racquetball, from youth leagues to the pros, players need to protect their eyes. As kids begin to resume their favorite sports, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is reminding the public that the best defense against potentially blinding sports-related injuries is wearing protective eyewear.

“Getting athletes of any age to wear protective eyewear is a challenge,” said Dianna Seldomridge, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

“Ophthalmologists hear all the reasons for not wearing eye protection: it’s cumbersome, it will impair peripheral vision, it will fog up. But sports goggles have vastly improved over the years. And if you start your kids early, wearing protective eyewear will become as natural as donning a batting helmet as they step up to the plate.”

"Getting athletes of any age to wear protective eyewear is a challenge." —Dr. Dianna Seldomridge

Protect Your Eyes

Among the common sports-related eye injuries ophthalmologists routinely treat are corneal abrasions, bruising around the eye, retinal detachments, and internal bleeding. Here are some safety tips for all athletes to practice: 

  1. Follow sport-specific requirements and standards regarding eye protection. Athletes who wear contacts or glasses should still wear eye protection, as contacts and regular eyeglasses are not replacements for protective sports eyewear.
  2. Replace eyewear once yellowed or damaged to ensure the best protection.
  3. Wear protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses, especially for basketball, racquet sports, soccer, and field hockey.
  4. Ensure eyewear has UV protection for snow and water sports to avoid sunburn and glare.
  5. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience an eye injury,  even if it seems minor; sometimes noticeable symptoms develop later.

For more information on eye health and injury prevention, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology: The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public.