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Kids participating in sports need eye protection, study shows

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Sports-related eye injuries increased nearly 20% last year compared with 2021, according to estimates from advocacy group Prevent Blindness.

Non-powder guns (such as paintball guns), darts, arrows and slingshots were the leading cause of the sports-related eye injuries last year, making up more than 5,200 of the 32,100-plus annual estimate – a 19.3% jump from the 2021 estimate of nearly 27,000.

Injuries from pools and water sports followed, with more than 4,400. That total includes more than 2,600 kids 14 and younger – the most by category for that age group.

Researchers developed the 2022 estimates based on data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Injury Information Clearinghouse and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

Prevent Blindness says athletes of all ages should wear protective eyewear while participating in sports. According to the National Eye Institute, protective eyewear can prevent 9 out of 10 sports-related eye injuries.

Recommendations for parents:

  • Consult with an eye doctor before enrolling kids in a sport.
  • Meet with coaches to make sure procedures for handling eye injuries are in place.
  • Choose sports organized by school districts, community centers, park districts and recreation centers, where adults are always present.

Parents, teachers, school nurses and coaches should learn about eye injury risks associated with sports, the warning signs of an eye injury and when to seek treatment.

“A sports-related eye injury can happen in an instant, but the effects may last a lifetime,” Prevent Blindness President and CEO Jeff Todd said in a press release. “Team up with your eye doctor to find the best sports eye protection to help keep you in the game today and save your sight for the future.”

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