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Most Sports-Related Eye Injuries Are Preventable

With spring's arrival, optometrists' group urges public to treat vision like the pros do

SATURDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- To prevent injuries to your eyes while playing sports, you need to go pro -- as in protective eyewear, advises the American Optometric Association (AOA).

With spring here and more people heading outside for fun and exercise, the association noted that about 600,000 documented sports-related injuries are reported annually in the United States. Roughly 13,500 of these injuries result in permanent loss of sight.

Even non-contact sports such as tennis, golf and fishing pose a moderate to high risk of eye injury because of flying objects, such as balls, racquets and hooks.

"Eye protection should be of major concern to all athletes, especially in certain high-risk sports," Paul Berman, AOA optometrist and sports vision specialist, said in a prepared statement. "Thousands of children and adults unnecessarily suffer sports-related eye injuries each year. Every thirteen minutes, an emergency room in the United States treats a sports-related eye injury, and nearly all could be prevented by using the proper protective eyewear."

Everyday prescription eyewear or sunglasses probably won't do the trick as most conventional frames and lenses fail to meet minimal impact requirements for most sports, an AOA advisory cautioned.

Sports-protective eyewear, however, is tested to meet rigid standards, and some have been independently verified and received the AOA Seal of Acceptance.

Going to an optometrist for an eye exam is the first step and a crucial one for amateur athletes as well as professionals.

"Doctors of optometry work with their patients to provide unique, advantaged eyewear solutions in order to protect vision and improve performance in athletics," Berman said. "I encourage you to visit your local optometrist to discuss options for vision protection, correction and enhancement."

More information

The American Optometric Association has more about sports and vision.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Optometric Association, news release, April 2008

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