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Children's Eye Care Center:  Saving Your Sight

By:  Mark A. Sibley, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Tennis and Racquetball Cause Most Sports Eye Injuries

Recently I saw two patients with eye injuries. One may lose his eye and become blind, and the other is totally fine. They both got hit in the eye with a tennis ball. The difference is that one had no protective glasses on, and the other was wearing protective glasses.

Tennis and racquetball are the leading causes of severe ocular trauma.

People mistakenly believe that racket sports (tennis and racquetball) are safe compared to sports like football and hockey.

People forget that the ball can travel at a speed of almost 100 miles per hour. The danger happens when the tennis ball or racket ball hits perfectly into the eye socket. The damage at impact is instant and causes damage including total bleeding or the loss of the eye and blindness.

The good news is that no one should stop playing, because these injuries are preventable. Protective eye-wear is available that is made according to industry standards and that helps people prevent blindness.

First, people should not wear regular street glasses while they are playing racquetball or tennis. The lenses shatter and dislocate, and the frames break and collapse.

Polycarbonate lens material in appropriate sports frames are available. Ask your optician about his or her recommendations for your specific needs.

Local sporting goods stores may also have these products.

Finally, there is a national certification consumers should look for. Everyone should look for certified eye-wear. This will be clearly marked with a PECC seal (Protective Eye-wear Certification Counsel).

Similar eye-wear certification was recently required for organized hockey. This policy resulted in the elimination of blinding eye injuries to players. It was felt that the 2 million certified protectors actually saved almost 70,000 eye and facial injuries last year. This saved $10 million dollars in medical expenses, but more importantly, it possibly saved 70,000 people from going blind from an eye injury that was preventable.

In summary, protect yourself, and wear protective eye-wear with the PECC certification. Do not leave them in your glove compartment, gym bag or locker. Wear them and prevent blindness!

About The Author

Dr. Mark Sibley

Dr. Mark Sibley, M.D., F.A.C.S., is a Board Certified Ophthalmologist and laser specialist who practices locally. He is medical advisor to the Society to Prevent Blindness and to the American Diabetes Association, and is team ophthalmologist for the Rays.

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The information contained herein is intended to be educational and is not intended in any way as a substitute for medical advice and care from qualified vision care providers. Consult a vision care professional in matters relating to visual health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

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