Eye injuries are the number one cause of blindness in children in the United States. Most of these injuries are sports-related. Young athletes are more prone to injuries because they are still developing hand-eye coordination, balance, reaction time and speed. According to a report by Prevent Blindness America, there are over 28,000 sports-related eye injuries every year that require emergency room visits. Basketball is the sport with the highest number of eye injuries in children between the ages of 15-24 years. In children younger than 15 years, the most eye injuries occur in basketball, water sports/activities, baseball/softball and gun-like activities. The National Eye Institute rates the following sports as being high risk for eye injuries: baseball, basketball, hockey, boxing, paintball, racquetball, softball and squash. Moderate risk sports include football, golf, soccer, badminton, tennis and fishing. Low risk sports include diving, skiing, swimming, wrestling and cycling.
Ninety percent of sports-related eye injuries are preventable. Prevent Blindness America recommends that athletes wear protective sports eyewear when participating in sports. To insure that your eyes are properly protected, use sports protective eyewear that is ASTM F803 approved. The American Society for Testing and Materials publishes protective eyewear standards. F803 is the strictest standard for protective eyewear. Impact resistant polycarbonate lenses should also be used. These plastic lenses are ten times more resistant to impact than regular lenses. Other important considerations include padding, size and strap length. Regular glasses should not be worn in the field of play. They are not meant to be protective, and can be a cause of major injury.
In short, protect the only set of eyes that you have.