Majority of Sports-Related Eye Injuries are Preventable With Protective Eyewear

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 General News
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ST. LOUIS, April 1, 2008 Each year, thousands ofsports-related eye injuries occur in the United States. The arrival of springbrings more outdoor sports and with them, the increased danger of eyeinjuries. The American Optometric Association (AOA) urges even casual athletesto protect their sight -- and that of teammates -- by keeping street eyewearoff the playing field and wearing proper protective eyewear instead.Conventional frames and lenses do not meet the minimum requirements for impactresistance in most sports, which can turn a small collision into asight-threatening injury, the AOA cautions. Sports-protective eyewear istested to meet rigid standards and some have been independently verified andreceived the AOA Seal of Acceptance.

"Eye protection should be of major concern to all athletes, especially incertain high-risk sports," said Dr. Paul Berman, AOA optometrist and SportsVision Specialist. "Thousands of children and adults unnecessarily suffersports-related eye injuries each year. Every thirteen minutes an emergencyroom in the United States treats a sports related eye injury(1) and nearly allcould be prevented by using the proper protective eyewear. And, if youparticipate in sports, get an eye exam. It can detect whether you have visionproblems, like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, which coulddiminish your performance and lead to physical injuries during sports."

Sports vision goes beyond choosing the correct protective eyewear thatprotects and provides clear vision. Just like speed and strength, vision is animportant component of how well you play your sport, the AOA says. And thereis much more to vision than just seeing clearly. Your vision is composed ofmany interrelated skills. And, just as exercise and practice can increase yourspeed and strength, they also can improve your visual fitness and accuracy.

Because all sports have different visual demands, an optometrist withexpertise in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommendthe proper eyeglasses or contact lenses, or design a vision-therapy program tomaximize your visual skills for a specific sport.

Sports with a moderate to high risk of eye injury include basketball,baseball, softball, cricket, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, squash,racquetball, fencing, boxing, full-contact martial arts, air rifle, tennis,badminton, soccer, volleyball, water polo, football, fishing, golf andwrestling(2).

"Doctors of optometry work with their patients to provide unique,advantaged eyewear solutions in order to protect vision and improveperformance in athletics," said Dr. Berman. "I encourage you to visit yourlocal optometrist to discuss options for vision protection, correction, andenhancement."

For additional information regarding sports vision, please visithttp://www.aoa.org/sports-vision.xml

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):

The American Optometric Association represents more than 34,000 doctors ofoptometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians.Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country,and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors.

American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified,trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose,treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providingeye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient's overallhealth and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes andhypertension. Doctors of optometry have the skills and training to providemore than two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.

Prior to optometry school, optometrists undergo three to four years ofundergraduate study that typically culminates in a Bachelor of Science degreein a field such as bio


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