Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths

But safety glasses can cut injury risk by 90%, vision expert says

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SATURDAY, Sept. 20, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Sports-related eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in school-age children, but most could be prevented with the proper eye protection.

To educate the public on this, Prevent Blindness America -- the nation's oldest volunteer eye health and safety organization -- has made September "Sports Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month."

"We already know that 72 percent of all sports-related eye injuries are to those aged 25 and younger. Yet, only 15 percent of children wear eye protection," Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America, said in a news release issued by the organization. "We strongly support all efforts to ensure that children use appropriate safety eyewear for every sport in which they participate."

Emergency rooms in the United States treat a sports-related eye injury every 13 minutes. Baseball causes the greatest number of sports-relater eye injuries in children aged 14 and younger, according to the National Eye Institute, while basketball is the leading cause of eye injuries in those aged 15 to 24.

It is believed that 90 percent of all sports-related eye injuries can be prevented with the proper eye protection. Lenses made of polycarbonate that carry the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) label are recommended.

"Through educating coaches, parents and children, we hope to put an end to unnecessary blindness and vision loss from sports-related injuries," Parry said. "By encouraging our kids, leading by example, and demanding their safety, we hope to help ensure a lifetime of healthy vision."

More information

Prevent Blindness America has more about sports eye health and safety.

SOURCE: Prevent Blindness America, news release, Aug. 27, 2008

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