Eye Safety for Children

Accidents resulting in eye injuries can happen to anyone. But the fact is, over half of the victims are under the age of twenty-five.

Many of these injuries, over 100,000 annually, occur during sports or recreational activities. Perhaps the most startling statistic of all is that 90% of all eye injuries could have been prevented.

Parents are advised to acquaint themselves with potentially dangerous situations at home and in school and to insist that their children use protective eyewear when participating in sports or other hazardous activities.

Children and Sports

Increasing numbers of children are participating in sports at an early age. Some sports in which children should use protective eyewear are:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Racquet sports
  • Soccer
  • Hockey (ice, roller, street, field)
  • Lacrosse

Contact lenses are not a form of eyewear protection and contact lens wearers require additional protection when participating in sports.

In baseball, ice hockey and men's lacrosse, a helmet with a polycarbonate (an especially strong, shatterproof, lightweight plastic) face mask or wire shield should be worn at all times. Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses and side shields should be worn for basketball, racquet sports and soccer.

While skiing, protective glasses or goggles that filter out UV and excessive sunlight can be useful in shielding the eye from sunburn. Boxing, wrestling and full contact martial arts pose an extremely high risk of serious and even blinding eye injury. No adequate protection is available, although thumbless gloves may reduce the number of eye injuries.

Parents of a child with permanently reduced vision in one eye should consider the risks of injury to the good eye before allowing their child to participate.

Eye Safety at Home and in the Yard

To provide the safest environment for your children, select games and toys that are appropriate for their age and responsibility level.

Provide adequate supervision and instruction when your children are handling potentially dangerous items, such as pencils, scissors, forks and pen knives. Be aware that even common household items such as paper clips, elastic cords, wire coat hangers, rubber bands and fishhooks can cause serious eye injury.

Avoid projectile toys such as darts and bows and arrows. Do not allow your children to play with non-powder rifles, pellet guns or BB guns. They are extremely dangerous and have been reclassified as firearms and removed from toy departments.

Keep all chemicals and sprays such as sink cleaners or oven cleaners out of reach of small children.

Do not allow children to ignite fireworks or stand near others who are doing so. All fireworks are potentially dangerous for children of all ages.

Do not allow children in the yard while a lawnmower is being operated. Stones and debris thrown from moving blades can cause severe eye injuries.

Demonstrate the use of protective eyewear to children by always wearing protective eyewear yourself while using power tools, rotary mowers, line lawn trimmers or hammering on metal.

General Eye Safety for Children

Children with good vision in only one eye should wear protective glasses to protect the good eye even if they do not need glasses otherwise. These lenses should be made of polycarbonate and be 3mm thick.

Choosing a plastic or polycarbonate frame will reduce the risk of injury from the frames themselves. Prescription lenses can be fitted into some types of sports goggles, but at present, empty frames do not provide adequate protection.

When an Injury Does Occur

When an eye injury does occur, it is always best to have an ophthalmologist or other medical doctor examine the eye as soon as possible. The seriousness of an eye injury may not be immediately obvious.