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Sports Eyecare and Protection

Eyes on the ball

Outdoor games and sports are an enjoyable and important part of most children's lives. Whether playing catch in the back yard or participating in team sports at school, vision plays an important role in how well a child performs.

Sports-eye coordination

Specific visual skills needed for sports include:

  • Clear distance vision
  • Good depth perception
  • Wide field of vision

A child who consistently underperforms a certain skill in a sport, such as always hitting the front of the rim in basketball or swinging late at a pitched ball in baseball, may have a vision problem. If visual skills are not adequate, the child may continue to perform poorly. Correction of vision problems with eyeglasses or contact lenses, or a program of eye exercises, called vision therapy, can help correct many vision problems, enhance vision skills, and help improve sports vision performance.

Keeping eyes safe

Eye protection should also be a major concern to all student athletes, especially in certain high-risk sports. Thousands of children suffer sports-related eye injuries each year and nearly all can be prevented by using the proper protective eyewear*. That is why it is essential that all children wear appropriate, protective eyewear whenever playing sports.

Regular prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses are not a substitute for appropriate, well-fitted protective eyewear. Athletes need to use sports eyewear that is tailored to protect the eyes while playing the specific sport. Your optometrist can recommend specific sports eyewear to provide the level of protection needed.

It is also important for all children to protect their eyes from damage caused by ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. Sunglasses are needed to help protect the eyes outdoors and some sport-specific designs may even help improve sports performance.

*Source: Eye-related injuries in Australia, The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2009.