Sports-Related Eye Protection, Children Ages Six to 19 Years

Each year in the United States over 40,000 sports-related eye injuries are treated in hospital emergency rooms. Among all age groups, sports-related eye injuries occur most frequently in baseball, basketball, hockey, football, lacrosse, and racquet sports. Wearing proper eye protection while playing sports can decrease the risk of eye injury by 90 percent.

The good news is that you, as a parent or caregiver, can play a major role in preventing sports-related eye injuries.

What sports have a risk for eye injury?

Be aware that individual sports have different levels of risk for eye injury:

  • High risk: Baseball, basketball, fencing, hockey, lacrosse, racquetball, and softball
  • Moderate risk: Badminton, football, soccer, tennis, volleyball, and golf
  • Low risk: Bicycling, diving, skiing, swimming, and wrestling
  • Eye safe: Track and field and gymnastics

During which sports should my child wear eye protection?

  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regulations permit field hockey players to wear a face mask, soft protective head covering, or eye protection in the form of plastic goggles.
  • Make sure your child wears a helmet with a polycarbonate face mask or wire shield at all times if they play baseball (while batting), ice hockey, and men's lacrosse.

What kind of eye protection should my child wear?

Protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses (a strong, shatterproof, lightweight plastic) should be worn for sports such as basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey. Choose eye protectors that have been tested to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. Remember that regular eyeglasses do not provide adequate protection from eye injury while playing sports.

What are some other eye safety tips?

Make sure your child wears appropriate, sports-specific protective eyewear properly fitted by an eye care professional. If your child has functionally lost the use of one eye, make sure they wear appropriate protection (e.g., safety glasses) to protect their other eye during all sports and recreational activities.

Where can I find more information about eye safety?