For many kids and adults, the arrival of spring means it’s time to get out your bats, gloves, and masks and head out to the baseball diamond. However, many people forget to include an important part of sports equipment: protective glasses .
According to the National Eye Institute, baseball is the leading cause of eye injuries among children 14 and younger who play sports in the United States. In fact, eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children, accounting for an estimated 100,000 emergency room visits and doctor visits a year.
“It’s sad that nine out of 10 children who have suffered an eye injury could have prevented it simply by wearing the right eye protection,” says Dr. Kendra DeAngelis, an oculoplastic surgeon from Memphis, Tennessee. “Unfortunately, many youth and adult sports leagues do not require players to wear goggles.”
Even major league players are not required to wear eye protection. However, eye injury reports in the major leagues show that these players are not immune to the devastating effects of a ball thrown by a bat or of a bat itself. In just the last two seasons, players on the Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies teams have suffered serious eye injuries.
Potential eye injuries caused by baseball include:
- corneal abrasion ;
- orbital fracture ;
- hyphema , which can lead to glaucoma ;
- rupture of the eyeball;
- cataracts ;
- retinal detachment
“Many people think that simply wearing normal glasses or sunglasses offers some kind of protection from a hit with a baseball, but this is false,” says Dr. DeAngelis. “The truth is that non-protective glasses can break on impact and cause an even more serious injury to the eye.”
Before measuring your diamond, take steps to protect your eyes:
- If you wear corrective glasses or contact lenses, ask your doctor about corrective goggles. There are certified face shields with goggles for baseball hitters and base runners; those who play as outfielders can get certified goggles.
- Protective sports goggles must meet the safety standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the American Standards Institute (ANSI). Goggles designed in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standards do not meet safety standards for eye protection in sports.
- All prescription Baseball Sunglasses for sports should be made of polycarbonate because it resists shock and offers protection against UV rays (ultraviolet light). If the protective lenses have yellowed with use, they will need to be replaced, as the polycarbonate may have weakened over time.
- Protective sports goggles offer the best eye protection. However, they may not suit narrow faces well. In this case, the best option will be the use of sports glasses with 3-millimeter-thick polycarbonate lenses.
- Any athlete who has vision loss in one eye should always wear goggles recommended by their doctor to protect their remaining vision.