By Michael Sato, OD **
If protective eyewear for sports and other activities isn’t on your shopping list this summer, it should be. Most eye injuries can be prevented by using eye protection.
Children who play sports, such as baseball and basketball, deserve particular attention since eye injuries occur fairly often during sporting activities. However, eye injuries can occur any time or anywhere so it’s important to have a pair of protective eyewear in the home as well as during sports play.
Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for a certain activity. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics.
Because eye injuries can cause vision loss, it’s important to recognize an injury and appropriately respond to it. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone else, get medical help right away.
- The person has obvious pain or trouble seeing.
- The person has a cut or torn eyelid.
- One eye does not move as well as the other.
- One eye sticks out compared to the other.
- The eye has an unusual pupil size or shape.
- There is blood in the clear part of the eye.
- The person has something in the eye or under the eyelid that can’t be easily removed.
If an eye injury occurs during a sporting event or at home, you should follow these rules while seeking medical help:
- Don’t touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye.
- Don’t try to remove an object stuck in the eye. For small debris, lift eyelid and blink rapidly to see if tears will flush out the particle. If not, close the eye and seek treatment.
- Do not apply ointment or medication to the eye.
- Gently cover a cut or puncture wound.
- Flush the eye with plenty of water only in the event of a chemical exposure.
Seek medical attention for the injured eye as soon as possible, even if the injury seems minor. If medical attention is delayed, an eye injury could worsen and result in permanent vision loss or blindness.
Also, remember to schedule an annual eye exam with your optometrist. The American Optometric Association recommends periodic eye and vision examinations as important preventive health care. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye and vision problems are essential for maintaining good vision and eye health and, possibly, preventing vision loss.
Optometrist Michael Sato, OD, is with Virginia Mason-Issaquah.