FRISCO, TX — (February 13, 2023) — When it comes to protecting eyes during sports activities, eye care professionals are in strong agreement that proper eye protection can reduce the number and severity of eye injuries. Yet, when it comes to recommending proper protective sports eyewear, many are not proactively initiating the conversation with patients or parents, according to new research presented at the International Sports Vision AssociationTM (ISVA) Annual Conference.
Nearly 400 eye care professionals participated in the “Sports Eye Injuries & Protective Sports Eyewear” survey conducted by Jobson Research® in conjunction with ISVA and Zyloware Eyewear®. The survey was designed to understand eye care professionals’ experiences in treating sports-related eye injuries and gauge their knowledge and attitudes about sports protective eyewear, along with factors that influence their decision to recommend protective eyewear to their patients.
More than 40 percent of eye injuries happen every year during sports and recreational activities.1 About half (53%) of eye care professionals surveyed note that most sports related eye injuries they treat are among teenagers (ages 13-19), followed by young adults (20’s), children (12 and under), adults (30-50), and older adults (50+). Asked to rank what sports related eye injury they treat most often, about three in four (72%) cite corneal abrasions as the most common injury they see, followed by blunt trauma, detached retina, and penetrating eye injuries.
“Sports that use a ball, puck, bat or racquet and/or have close aggressive play with intentional or unintentional body contact and collision are at high risk for eye injuries,” says ISVA Vice President, Membership, Jennifer Stewart, OD.
Survey respondents say basketball (55%) and baseball (53%) are the sports that are the cause of most of the sports related eye injuries they treat. About four in ten (39%) note they often treat eye injuries associated with racquet sports (i.e., tennis, pickleball and badminton) and flag or tackle football (36%). Soccer (33%), Hockey (12%), Water sports (9%) and Lacrosse (7%) were other top athletic activities noted.
During eye examinations or other office visits most eye care professionals say they are proactive in asking patients about the sports/leisure activities they participate in, yet only one in three (35%) report that the Optometrist/Ophthalmologist will initiate a conversation about protective sports eyewear and one in five (21%) say it’s an optical staff member. Four in ten say the subject is generally introduced by Parents/Guardians (24%) and Patients (16%).
“Increased prevention efforts are needed to decrease sports and recreation related eye injuries among athletes of all age and skill levels,” says Dr. Stewart. “As Eye Care Professionals, we are in a unique position to help our patients avoid potential vision-threatening injuries before they happen,” she adds. More than 90% of sports- and recreation-related eye injuries can be prevented by using appropriate eye and facial protection.2
Appropriate Eye Protection
About nine in 10 (89%) eye care professionals surveyed agree that everyday dresswear eyeglasses and sunglasses don’t offer adequate protection to guard against potential eye injuries while playing sports and that wearing protective sports eyewear is as important as putting on other protective gear such as helmets and pads (92%). A significant majority (81%) agree that all children need protective sports eyewear while playing sports regardless of whether they wear glasses or contact lenses. “Sports and recreation activities and equipment are associated with approximately one-fourth of all pediatric eye injuries2,” notes Dr. Stewart.
ASTM International, one of the largest voluntary standards developing organizations in the world, sets the standards that eye protection must meet to help prevent eye injuries in different sports. Each sport has a specific ASTM standard, which prescribes specific impact testing to best determine the eyewear’s ability to prevent an ocular injury in consideration of the unique elements of play and equipment associated with a particular sport.
Virtually all eye care professionals surveyed (97%) agree that it is important that protective sports eyewear meet the appropriate ASTM standard for specific sports. Yet, when asked how familiar they are with these standards, only three in ten (30%) are very familiar while half (50%) are somewhat familiar and 21% are unfamiliar. “Recommendations and requirements are different for every sport, and it is important that eye care professionals are acquainted with the appropriate ASTM standard designation for the sport an athlete plays,” explains optical engineer Dale Pfriem, Physical Scientist and Principal of Protective Equipment Consulting Services, Cleveland, Ohio, and chairman of ASTM Subcommittee F08.57 on Eye Safety for Sports.
Barriers to Dispensing Protective Sports Eyewear
Of those eye care professionals surveyed who say their practice does not dispense protective sports eyewear, about one in five (19%) say they find protective sports eyewear to be a difficult sell to parents. Six in ten (62%) say cost is the top reason patients give them for not wanting protective sports eyewear, while 44 percent say a patients’ insurance plan is another significant reason patients give them for not wanting protective sports eyewear.
“In the blink of an eye, an athlete can fall victim to a catastrophic eye injury that can affect his/her vision and eye health for years to come,” says Dr. Stewart. “While cost may be a factor for some, it’s imperative we educate parents, teachers, school nurses, coaches, and athletes of all ages about the risks of not wearing proper protective eyewear during sports activities and encourage them to make this important equipment investment to protect their eyes.”
ISVA offers Protect. Prevent. Play., an educational resource that includes information about types of sports related eye trauma, what to do (and not do) following an eye injury, along with important information about selecting the proper protective eyewear for the sport(s) you play. It can be found on the ISVA website at https://www.sportsvision.pro/athletes/protectpreventplay/, along with a downloadable PDF practitioners can post on their websites or print for distribution in their offices.
To download a copy of the “Sports Eye Injuries & Protective Sports Eyewear report, visit https://www.sportsvision.pro/athletes/protectpreventplay/sports-eye-survey/
The International Sports Vision Association (ISVA) is an interdisciplinary group of professionals dedicated to advancing the field of vision training for athletes of all ages and levels to help them achieve peak athletic performance. Vision, just like speed and strength, is a critical component in how well you play any sport. A growing body of evidence confirms that visual abilities can be strengthened and enhanced by means of appropriate visual training. Reduce the risk of traumatic vision and head-related injuries (i.e., concussions) through education about protective devices and equipment
For further information, visit www.sportsvision.pro
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Since 1923, Zyloware has been a leading American source for eyewear, sunglasses, and optical accessories. Priding itself on quality, service, and customer satisfaction, Zyloware marks its 100-year anniversary this year celebrating a century of sight around the world, becoming the oldest family owned and operated optical company in the industry in its third generation of family management.
Known as an optical innovator, Zyloware leads the industry in original product development and branding with its in-house marketing, quality control, and customer service teams. Zyloware’s SHAQ EYE GEAR Protector Collection is designed for people of all ages who want to help protect their vision during participation in sports and leisure time activities.
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- “Eye Injury Prevention,” American Academy of Ophthalmology, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/preventing-injuries. Accessed 12/22/22
- Miller, K et al. Pediatric Sports- and Recreation-Related Eye Injuries Treated in US Emergency Departments, Pediatrics, February 2018 https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/141/2/e20173083