Eye Protection in Sports: A Year Round Concern

Eye Protection in SportsIf you have a child playing a fall sport, you are no doubt rustling up the requisite uniform and safety equipment. Coach has provided a list of necessary pads and helmets, guards and specialty footwear, but have you also considered eye protection?

You should.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 200,000 children suffer eye injuries related to sports each year, yet the number of kids who use protective eyewear (safety glasses or goggles) is extremely low. These injuries can range from abrasions of the cornea and bruises of the lid to internal eye injuries, such as retinal detachments and bleeding.

They can be prevented.

At a minimum, Dr. Rossman recommends sports frames with polycarbonate lenses which will protect the eyes from high velocity trauma (racquets, balls, elbows…) Sports frames can accommodate prescription lenses, but everyone benefits from safety eyewear, even without correction.

So, which sports are the most dangerous for your eyes? Basically, any sport with contact, high velocity projectiles or racquets – and sports where a helmet is not required. Baseball and basketball top the list, with racquet and stick sports a close second. Soccer is an eye-dangerous sport that surprises many parents.

Knowing what to do if an injury occurs is also very important to the outcome and the comfort of the patient. Most parents are equipped to deal with break or sprain, but eye injuries are complex and often met with confusion.

“Eye injuries are very disturbing to the child and parent because the symptoms can be very dramatic,” says Dr. Rossman, who notes that redness, pain and swelling are uncomfortable and alarming but may not be emergent.

  • If an eye is injured by blunt force, gently apply ice right away and call the office.
  • If you receive a cut or puncture to the eye, hold a clean bandage over the eye to prevent infection and call the office. Do not wash out the eye.
  • If you have a small object or debris stuck in your eye, do not attempt to remove it. Call the office; Dr. Rossman can remove most objects from the eye but some may require referral to a surgeon.
  • Don’t self-medicate.
  • Don’t rub the eye as it may cause serious corneal damage.

“The best course of action is to call our office immediately following an injury,” says Dr. Rossman, who can assess the patient’s need for medical treatment or specialty care. “If you suspect the patient may also have a concussion or there are other serious injuries, the best course of action is probably the emergency room. However most eye injuries are best addressed by an eye doctor.”


If you or your child suffers an eye injury, call West Salem Vision Center during regular hours at 503.779.2119. You can inform the front desk that you are calling about an injury and they will get you in touch with Dr. Rossman as soon as possible. After hours, call 503.779.7882 or email westsalemvisioncenter@gmail.com if you’d like to attach a photo of your injury.