Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2024

Play it Safe for 'Sports Eye Safety Month'

One of the truest signs of spring is the return of people of all ages to the great outdoors to play organized sports. From little league and pickleball to tennis and lacrosse, people are digging out or buying new gear. One critical and often overlooked piece of gear is eye protection.

Lest you think protective eyewear is optional, consider this:

  • roughly 600,000 Americans suffer from sports-related eye injuries each year
  • about 42,000 are severe enough to require a visit to the emergency room
  • approximately 13,500 of these injuries result in permanent vision loss
  • the highest number of injuries occur in kids aged 18 or younger (60% male, 67% female)
  • eye injuries are a leading cause of blindness in children in the United States—and most of these injuries happen while kids are playing sports.

The good news is that wearing the right protective eyewear can prevent 9 out of 10 sports-related eye injuries.

Made of ultra-strong polycarbonate, a type of plastic that’s very impact resistant and protects eyes from ultraviolet rays, protective eyewear is available at most sporting goods stores and online. Types of protective gear for sports include safety goggles, face guards, and special eyewear. The right type of eyewear depends upon the sport being played.   

Safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses are recommended for:

  • Baseball and softball (when fielding)
  • Basketball
  • Mountain biking
  • Racquetball and squash
  • Soccer
  • Pickleball
  • Racquet ball and squash
  • Cycling and mountain biking

Helmets with attached polycarbonate face guards or face masks are recommended for:

  • Baseball and softball (when batting)
  • Hockey
  • Tackle football
  • Paint ball and shooting an air gun

Swim safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses are recommended for:

  • Swimming
  • Water polo
  • Water skiing or tubing
  • Surfing

It’s important to note that regular eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contacts do not provide adequate protection from potential injury. However, most protective eyewear can be made to match a corrective glasses or contact prescriptions. In addition, many safety goggles can be worn comfortably over regular glasses.

One last thought: while doing yard work doesn’t qualify as a sport, it carries a LOT of potential risk for eye injury. Always wear protective eye wear when mowing the lawn,  weed whacking, hedge trimming, using a leaf blower, or working in or around thick brush.

Eye injuries can happen in a second, but the effects can last a lifetime.


Sports Contributing to Highest Number of Eye Injuries
Baseball or softball
Shooting an air gun
Baseball or softball


Adam Cohen, MD, is the director of Emergency Medicine and an Emergency Medicine physician at SVMC.


Theme picker

Theme picker

Theme picker

Our Services


A commitment to excellence and a patient-centered approach sets Southwestern Vermont Health Care apart.

 Cancer Care
 Primary Care
 Rehab & Residential Care
View All Services

Theme picker

Theme picker

Theme picker