The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recognizes April as National Sports Eye Safety month to draw attention to the numerous injuries that occur each year due to lack of, or insufficient use of, proper eye safety equipment. The Academy states that 90 percent of all eye injuries – sports related and otherwise – can be prevented by wearing protective eyewear. The reality is that only 35 percent of the respondents, according the Academy’s annual survey, say they wear protective eyewear to perform repairs or home maintenance; but even fewer do so to play sports.

As the spring sports season kicks off with soccer, baseball, tennis and softball, everyone playing, coaching, or spectating these sports should be vigilant about how to prevent and recognize eye injuries that can occur.

Here are some tips on what to look for:

As each sport is different and carries different risks, it is important to do your research to learn more. Each sport’s governing body usually has available any specific requirements or standards recommended for safe pursuit of the sport. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) also provides similar information for eye safety.

The AAO lists the most frequent sports causing eye injuries as baseball, basketball and in racquet sports. Boxing and full-contact martial arts carry a very high risk or serious or blinding eye injuries.

Following is a list of the recommended eye protection by the AAO for common sport activities:

The most important thing is to have fun while playing these spring sports, but we also want everyone to be safe while enjoying themselves. Be alert and always ask your doctor if you have questions on injury prevention or treatment of your eyes – we’re cheering for you!