SPORTS SAFETY

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Charles Shidlofsky, OD, FCOVD, is VP of the International Sports Vision Association, a member of the Texas Optometric Association and among the 18,000 doctors listed on the Think About Your Eyes online locator. Think About Your Eyes is a nationwide public awareness initiative promoting the importance of an annual eye exam and overall vision health. First Vision Media Group (publisher of VCPN) supports Think About Your Eyes as a media partner and provides space for this monthly Guest Editorial..

For many parents, having their children involved in sports is a key component of an active, healthy childhood. But sports of all kinds contain an element of potential injury to our eyes, and many kids are not as protected as they should be. In fact, the 2002 National Health Interview Survey found that 84.6% of children do not use protective eyewear in situations that represent a risk of eye injury. For kids wearing “street wear” (that does not conform to ASTM standards), they’re actually at a far greater risk of eye injury than participants using no eye protection at all. And it’s not just kids who need this protection. More than 600,000 eye injuries related to sports and recreation occur each year, with 42,000 of these injuries severe enough to require a trip to the emergency room.

The good news, more than 90% of eye injuries can be prevented with the use of appropriate protective eyewear. In our office, we begin by impressing upon all our patients, whether they play organized sports or not, and whether they are younger or older, they need to wear protective eyewear.

Increasing the use of protective eyewear in sports is a goal of the National Institute of Health’s “Healthy People 2020” policy, and it should also be a priority for every one of us as eye doctors as well as for every one of our staff members. You don’t have to focus on sports vision or vision therapy to help your patients; just mention this need when patients are in your chair, and have posters and brochures available in your office to reinforce the message.

Besides talking directly with every patient, we post frequently about sports vision safety on various social media platforms. We provide services such as screenings and vision training for members of local sports teams. We also support the Think About Your Eyes campaign, which is helping to educate the American public to stop and think about taking care of their vision.

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