The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend mandatory protective eyewear for all functionally one-eyed individuals and for athletes who have had eye surgery or trauma and whose ophthalmologists recommend eye protection. Protective eyewear is also strongly recommended for all other athletes.
More than 41 000 sports-related and recreational eye injuries were treated in hospital emergency departments in 1993.1 Seventy-one percent of the injuries occurred in individuals younger than 25 years; 41% occurred in individuals younger than 15 years; and 6% occurred in children younger than 5 years. Children and adolescents are particularly susceptible to injuries because of their fearless manner of play and their athletic immaturity.2-4
Ten sports or sports groupings are highlighted in this statement based on their popularity and the high incidence of eye injuries (see Table 1).1 Baseball and basketball are associated with the most eye injuries in athletes 5 to 24 years old.5 Participation rates and information on the severity of the injuries are unavailable, however; therefore, the relative risk of significant injuries cannot be determined for various sports.
The high frequency of sports-related eye injuries in young athletes indicates the need for an awareness among athletes and their parents of the risks of participation and of the availability of a variety of approved sports eye protectors. When properly fitted, appropriate eye protectors have been found to reduce the risk of significant eye injury by at least 90%.4,6,7
It would be ideal if all children and adolescents wore appropriate eye protection for all sports and recreational activities.