According to the MOA, conventional frames and lenses do not meet the minimum requirements for impact resistance in most sports, which can turn a small collision into a sight-threatening injury. Sports-protective eyewear is tested to meet rigid standards and some have been independently verified and received the American Optometric Association (AOA) Seal of Acceptance.
"Thousands of children and adults unnecessarily suffer sports-related eye injuries each year," said Jeffrey Pulk, O.D., MOA member. "Every thirteen minutes, an emergency room in the United States treats a sports related eye injury and nearly all could be prevented by using proper protective eyewear."
Sports vision goes beyond choosing the correct protective eyewear. Athletic performance can be diminished and physical injuries are more likely when vision problems, like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism go uncorrected. The MOA recommends an annual eye exam for anyone who participates in sports.
An optometrist can assess a person's unique visual system and recommend the proper eyeglasses or contact lenses for a particular sport, because all sports have different visual demands. An optometrist who specializes in sports vision can design a vision-therapy program to maximize visual skills for a specific sport.
"Eye protection should be of major concern to all athletes, especially in certain high-risk sports," said Dr. Pulk. "Aside from wearing dress glasses, another problem occurs when athletes take corrective eyewear off to play sports. They sacrifice visual acuity so they can fit a helmet securely or play without risk of damaging their glasses. This occurs very often and can create an unsafe environment for all participants."
The most common sports vision concerns include:
1. Protection: Athletes' eyes need certified sports protective eyewear that will protect against injury and ultra-violet light.
2. Correction: Spectacle wearers require prescription sports protective eyewear, while contact-lens wearers may need a different lens, during sports. For example, skiers spend their time in cold, dry conditions and need a contact lens that will provide more moisture.
3. Vision enhancement:
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