Know the Score: Wearing Eye Protection Prevents Players from Getting Benched Due to Injury

Sports-related eye injuries cause an estimated 100,000 doctor visits each year. Yet, most of these injuries can be prevented by wearing eye protection. In fact, a recent study of high school field hockey players shows that traumatic eye injuries fell 67 percent after eye protection became mandatory. In support of Sports Eye Safety Month in April, the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are offering athletes of all ages guidance on how to best protect their eyes.

Common sports eye injuries include corneal abrasions, lacerations and bleeding in the eye. Basketball players tend to get poked in the eye with fingers. Tennis and softball players more often get hit with fast moving balls. In contact sports like football and martial arts, more severe ocular injuries such as retinal detachment and orbital fracture occur. One-third of sports-related eye injuries happens to kids.

The good news is that 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented with the use of protective eyewear. Save your vision while playing sports by following these tips:

  • Wear the right eye protection: For basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey, wear protection with shatterproof polycarbonate lenses.
  • Put your helmet on: For baseball, ice hockey and lacrosse, wear a helmet with a polycarbonate face mask or wire shield.
  • Know the standards: Choose eye protection that meets American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. See the Academy’s protective eyewear web page for more details.
  • Throw out old gear: Eye protection should be replaced when damaged or yellowed with age. Wear and tear may cause them to become weak and lose effectiveness.
  • Glasses won’t cut it: Regular prescription glasses may shatter when hit by flying objects. If you wear glasses, try sports goggles on top to protect your eyes and your frames.

“Virtually all sports eye injuries could be prevented by wearing proper eye protection,” said ophthalmologist Philip R. Rizzuto, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the Academy.

That’s why I always strongly encourage athletes to protect their eyes when participating in competitive sports.

Anyone who experiences a sports eye injury should immediately visit an ophthalmologist, a physician specializing in medical and surgical eye care.

For more information on sports eye safety, see the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website at www.aao.org/eye-health.

Ergonomics for the Eyes: Simple Adjustments to Help Reduce Visual Fatigue

Long touted as good for backs and necks, proper desk ergonomics are also important for the health and comfort of the eyes. In support of Workplace Eye Wellness Month in March, the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians & Surgeons and the American Academy of Ophthalmology is offering tips to desk workers everywhere whose eyes may need relief from too much screen time.

Many people who spend long hours reading or working on a computer for their jobs experience eye discomfort. Focusing on tiny type for hours on end can cause eye strain, fatigue and headaches. Staring at screens for long periods can also leave eyes parched, red and gritty-feeling.

I have many patients who work long hours in an office setting, and it can be irritating to the eyes, causing dryness, strain, even blurriness. Luckily, changing a few simple things in your environment and on your desk can help solve some of these problems.

Natasha Herz, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

To help avoid workplace dry eye and eye strain, follow these eye ergonomics tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

  • Stay at arm’s length: The eyes actually have to work harder to see close up than far away. If you have a desktop computer, try placing the monitor 25 inches away from your face. No measuring tape? Put your screen an arm’s length away. You may need to adjust the type to appear larger at that distance.
  • Take care of glare: While many new phones and laptops have glass screens with excellent picture quality, they also produce a strong glare that can aggravate the eyes. If you use a glass screen device, try a matte filter for your screen.
  • Give your eyes a break: Just as carpal tunnel syndrome from overuse can hurt your wrists, eye strain occurs after long, continuous periods of reading paper or viewing digital screens up close. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Looking into the distance allows your eyes to relax.
  • Defy dry eye: Many newer office buildings have humidity-controlled environments that suck moisture out of the air. In winter, heaters on high can further dry your eyes. Try a desktop humidifier to add localized moisture. Keep artificial tears at hand to help lubricate your eyes.
  • Lighten up: When your screen is much brighter than your surroundings, your eyes have to work harder to see. Adjusting your environmental lighting can reduce eye strain. Also, try increasing the contrast on your monitor.

Those experiencing consistently dry red eyes or eye pain should visit an ophthalmologist, a physician specializing in medical and surgical eye care.

For more information on computers and eye strain, see the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s public information website at www.aao.org/eye-health.