If your teen is playing sports of any kind and while wearing regular glasses, there are a few things that you should know. First, sports, regardless of the type, can pose a major threat to the glasses that your child is wearing. Second, those glasses may pose a major risk to your child’s face and eyes. If you're still not convinced that you need to have a pair of sports-specific glasses for your child, keep this in mind: according to Prevent Blindness America there are more than 40,000 sports-related eye injuries every year. Do not let your child be one of these horrifying statistics.
Following the rules
Some leagues and school districts, recognizing the need to protect their athletes, have adopted specific rules and guidelines for safety equipment including face and eye protection. Before you pay for sports eyewear, make sure that you are choosing the right kind and that it is in compliance with these rules.
Sport specific frames
Each sport poses a different type of danger and should have frames that are specifically designed to handle those dangers. Frames should be made of a high impact resistant material, such as polycarbonate. Look for frames that have rubber cushioning for head or the nose for additional comfort for your teen and to help ensure a secure fit. If the protective eyewear isn't comfortable, teens will be less likely to wear them when needed.
Another option for frames is a contoured, wrap style that is excellent for biking or other outdoor activities. These types of frames offer more protection from wind and dust and are especially good for those who are wearing contacts, but aren't appropriate for all sports.
Sports eyewear lenses can be either prescription or non-prescription and are typically made of polycarbonate because of its high impact resistance. (There is no such thing as a lens that is impact proof). Look for lenses that offer UV protection and always opt for the scratch-resistant coating. Teens who play certain sports, especially those that are outdoors, might also benefit from particular tints. For instance, yellow, gold or amber lenses can help reduce glare in sunny conditions.
Sport goggles may offer better protection and are typically easier to fit under helmets and other protective gear. Make sure that the goggles are approved for the sport your teen is playing. Goggles are also good to wear while wearing contact lenses because they can protect the eyes and the lenses from danger, wind and debris. Goggles are also important for swimming, diving and other water sports.
Tips for a perfect fit
Safety glasses or goggles must be specifically fitted for each athlete. Because teens may still be growing, their eye wear should be checked each year for proper fit. You should always choose eyewear that fits your teen properly at the time of purchase, not ones they will have to “grow into.” If the eyewear is too big, it will slip and move around on the face, potentially leaving the eyes vulnerable and obstructing the teen’s vision. If they are too small, the glasses will pinch and hurt and will probably spend more time in the gym bag than on the face.
If a strap is used to hold the glasses in place, make sure that is properly fit as well. A wider strap is less likely to cause pain and will stay in place better.
More facts and statistics related to sports and eye injuries
- During racquet sports, the ball frequently travels at speeds of 60 mph or more.
- Basketball has an surprisingly high rate of eye injuries considering that nothing is technically thrown directly at the player’s head or face. The danger typically comes from the opposing players fingers and elbows.
- Hockey pucks can reach speeds of more than 100 mph. Eye injuries are possible for anybody on the ice but are the goalie is most at risk, since he or she stands in the line of fire for the entire game.
- Handball and paintball are two of the most dangerous sports for eyes. Of the people who arrived at hospital emergency rooms for eye injuries related to these sports:
- 28% suffered a ruptured eyeball
- 19% had a detached retina
- 22% suffered total removal of the eyeball
- 81% required some kind of eye surgery
- Only 39% of these patients recovered vision of 20/40 or better
(source: American Journal of Opthalmology. February 2009)
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