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Protect your eyes during sports
Health advice
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May Is Healthy Vision Month. The theme is "Gear Up -- There's more to lose then the game.  Wear protective eye wear."
The goal of the month is to inform people about the need for children age 7-14 (as well as all others) to prevent eye injuries by using protective eyewear when playing sports.
Sports-related eye injuries represent a significant health hazard in the United States, requiring at least 100,000 physician visits each year at a cost of more than $175 million. Of these, at least 42,000 require visits to an emergency room and approximately 13,500 injuries result in permanent loss of sight.
Statistics show children under 15 account for nearly one-third of all hospital admissions for eye trauma and 43 percent of all sports and recreational eye injuries.
Prevention is the key. Ninety percent of sports-related eye injuries could be prevented with protective eyewear, including safety glasses, goggles, shields and eye guards designed to protect for certain activities.
Ordinary prescription glasses, contact lenses and sunglasses do not provide enough protection in eye-hazardous situations.  They can instead increase an athlete's chance of eye injury, so safety goggles should be worn over them.

Tips to prevent injuries:
1. Injuries from toys:  
a. Inspect toys. Toys for young children should be made of durable plastic or wood with no sharp edges or points and should be able to withstand impact. Avoid toys with small parts for young children.
b. Check toys regularly for broken parts. Throw broken toys out if they cannot be repaired. Older kids often alter their toys and misuse them, making them unsafe. It is better to be vigilant, even with older kids, to prevent serious eye injuries.
c. Read the instructions and suggested age levels. Assess whether the item is appropriate for the child's ability and age. Age labeling is provided not just for developmental reasons, but for safety too.
d. Avoid toys that shoot projectiles such as toy guns. They contribute to a large number of eye injuries. Last year, there were close to 3,000 eye injuries in children under 14 caused by toy weapons, BB guns, slingshots and other propelled toys.
e. Look for the symbol ASTM F963. This indicates the product meets the standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Make recommendations to relatives and friends about gifts appropriate for your child and keep an eye out for recalled products. Large toy retailers post regular notices of recalled products and many stores display them.
2. Sports injuries:
Eye injuries are common in baseball. In fact, baseball is the leading cause. If your child plays baseball, racket ball or softball, make sure he wears safety gear every time he plays and practices. Insist that your child wear a helmet when batting, waiting to bat, or running the bases. Helmets should have eye protectors, either safety goggles or face guards. If your child is a catcher, he or she will need additional gear including a face mask.
3. Sun damage:
While most parents are aware of the damage that ultraviolet rays can do to the skin, few appear to know that people run the risk of developing eye damage by these same rays. UV rays penetrate deep into the eye and may injure the macula, a part of the retina. Photokeratitis, or corneal sunburn, is a result of intense exposure to UV-B and is most common among individuals who spend long hours on the beach or ski slopes without proper eye protection. It can be extremely painful and can result in temporary loss of vision.

Ratcliffe works with the Coastal Health District.
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