Safety and Eye Protection
The eyes make up just 0.27% of the body’s surface, yet account for 10% of all traumatic eye injuries. Whether you’re a professional sportsperson or an amateur playing in the park you are at risk of ocular injury, whether that’s direct trauma or subtler but still serious damage caused by UV radiation.
High risk sports for traumatic eye injuries include combat sports, cricket, football, rugby, hockey or racquet sports. Injuries can be caused by balls, shuttlecocks or opponents’ elbows and fingers.
Although football is the single sport responsible for the most eye injuries, the combined racquet sports of badminton, tennis and squash account for 35% of all sporting injuries to the eye.
This statistic is not surprising when you consider that a squash ball or shuttlecock can travel at up to 145mph. Even a humble table tennis ball can travel at speeds of up to 100mph. Any of these projectiles are small enough to fit into the eye socket, causing damage to the eyeball. Players can also hit each other in the eye with their racquets.
Squash is currently the only sport in which eye protection is recommended and required for players under 18 years of age.
The nature of the injury that occurs depends on the exact situation but generally they are high energy blunt impacts which can lead to:
• Black eyes
• Conjunctival haemorrhage
• Orbital blow-out fractures
• Iris damage
• Secondary glaucoma
• Rupture of the globe
• Corneal abrasions
• Vitreous haemorrhage
• Retinal detachment or tear
• Retinal swelling
Most of these conditions can potentially lead to blindness. However, most can be avoided by simple eye protection and preventative measures.
Sports eye protection is designed to resist the impact from fast moving objects such as squash balls. Sports eyewear can also include a contrast enhancement filter to improve the quality of vision.
One problem faced by sports eyewear manufacturers was that for many years the equipment was seen as unfashionable. However, the modern day eye protection is both stylish and comfortable.
Perry Optometrists have a range of sports eye protection available. All products conform to the relevant British or European Standard and many can be found in our online catalogue.
All sports played outdoors lead to increased risk of damage to the eyes from UV radiation. In the short term this can cause discomfort, watering and snow blindness. These conditions resolve themselves in a couple of days and cause little lasting damage.
However, long term exposure can lead to chronic changes in the eye, including cataracts, macular degeneration, pterygium, pinguecula and basal cell carcinoma. UV exposure is a particular risk with water sports and winter sports.
All sports eye protection used outdoors should provide protection from both UVA and UVA. Lenses can be coated to block out UV rays and polarising lenses cut down reflections off snow and water. It is also important to block out the blue end of the visible spectrum: these tints are often a reddish orange colour and can increase contrast and clear haze. It’s important that lenses are not too dark as they unnecessarily enlarge the pupil, reduce depth of field and hence the quality of vision.
To find the best tint for your sports lenses you need to consider the brightness of the ambient light, the colour of the target, colour of the background, and the contrast between the two.
Grey filters are neutral and keep colours looking natural. They are good for golf, mountaineering and skiing. Polarising filters, meanwhile, reduce reflected glare and are good for fishing, water sports and cycling in the rain. Anti-reflection coatings are good for archery, fishing, shooting and racquet sports.
It is important to incorporate a suitable filter in ski visors and goggles to protect against the strong reflectivity of snow at high altitudes. Prescription goggles and diving masks are also possible, giving clear vision without the need for additional glasses.