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Preventing Eye Injuries

Eye injuries in kids can lead to serious vision problems, even blindness. Wearing protective eyewear can prevent most eye injuries. Protective eye wear is made with shatterproof plastic. This means that even if the plastic cracks, it won’t break into small pieces. Regular glasses do not protect the eyes well. The glass in regular glasses usually isn’t shatterproof.  If it breaks, small pieces can go into the eye. Contact lenses do not protect the eyes from injuries.

How Can Eye Injuries in Sports Be Prevented?

In sports where eye injury is possible, kids should wear safety or sport glasses with shatterproof plastic (called polycarbonate lenses). Different sports have specific recommendations. But generally, sports or safety glasses are important while playing:

For ice hockey or men’s lacrosse, players should wear a helmet with a face mask or polycarbonate shield.

There are no safety or sports glasses that protect the eyes well during boxing.

How Can Eye Injuries at Home Be Prevented?

At home, a person should wear safety glasses or goggles (stamped with "ANSI Z87.1" and available at most hardware stores) when they:

  • Mow the lawn and do other lawn work.
  • Use tools, especially ones that create flying debris like a saw, sander, or metal grinder.
  • Work with hazardous chemicals such as oven cleaner or bleach.

It’s also wise to use grease splatter shields when cooking foods that can splatter hot grease or oil.

Other Eye Safety Tips

Wear sunglasses or goggles with UV protection when outside to protect the eyes from sun damage. Over time, too much sun can lead to cataracts, eye cancers, and growths on the eyes. Snow blindness (a painful eye condition that leads to blurry vision, swelling, and watery eyes) can happen when sunlight reflects of ice and snow, especially at high elevations.

Consider wearing eye protection if you go to a public protest. Rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray can cause serious eye injury.

Use protective eyewear when using airguns (for example, during paintball). Use eyewear that meets military ballistic standards. Ski goggles, sunglasses, and other similar protective eyewear do not offer enough protection.

Reviewed by: Daniel J. Lattin, MD
Date Reviewed: Sep 15, 2021

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