AOA warns against basketball-related ocular injury

April 29, 2014

The American Optometric Association (AOA) reminds eyecare professionals to educate patients about basketball vision safety.

The National Eye Institute (NEI) classifies basketball as a high-risk sport for eye injuries.

“Optometrists should be doing everything they can, number 1, to ensure their athlete-patients are fully, visually optimized for their sport, and number 2, fully protected, especially for those sports that are heavily eye-injury related,” says Fred Edmunds, OD, vice chair of the AOA’s Sports Vision Section. “Basketball is probably the top sport for ocular injuries across all age groups, from young children to college and professional athletes.”

Sports-related eye injuries, though often preventable, have the potential to cause permanent damage to a player’s vision. The AOA offers the following tips for basketball vision safety:

• Protective eyewear can prevent up to 90% of sports-related eye injuries, according to the NEI. But the 2013 AOA American Eye-Q survey results show about only 32% of adults wear eye protection during sports, and about only 50% of parents make their children wear eye protection. American Society for Testing and Materials certified that eyewear helps prevent injuries and recommends it for athletes. Soft contact lenses also can add a protective element in reducing corneal abrasions or lacerations.

• Recommend athletic trainers and coaches keep an ocular emergency first aid kit on the bench so eye trauma can be dealt with swiftly and properly. Dr. Edmunds suggests kits include saline to irrigate eyes, and a penlight with a blue filter and fluorescein dye to detect foreign bodies.

• Include an ocular emergency triage card in the kit to let athletic trainers and coaches know when it's time to visit the optometrist for an eye injury. The card helps promote a rapport with local trainers and optometric practices.