COS Reminds Athletes Importance of Protective Eyewear this Sports Eye Safety Month

With the NHL hockey playoff season underway, April also marks Sports Eye Safety Month, and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is reminding all athletes and sports enthusiasts to protect their vision and help avoid any serious eye injuries that could affect their season. Despite eye injuries being common, 38% of Canadians said they rarely, or never, wear protective eyewear when participating in outdoor sports, according to a 2021 survey conducted by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society.

“Over the years, I’ve seen a fair number of sports-related eye injuries from lack of protective eyewear, especially in hockey due to direct puck strikes,” says Dr. Bryce Ford, an ophthalmologist for the Calgary Flames and a Clinical Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Calgary. “Accidents in sports are common, so wearing protective eyewear can help reduce injuries such as eyelid lacerations, corneal abrasions or more severe injuries such as retinal detachments which can cause complete vision loss.”

While sports injuries are common, certain sporting organizations and leagues are making strides in ensuring the safety of players. For instance, in 2013, the NHL enacted a rule that said unless a player had already played 25 games in the NHL without one, wearing a visor is mandatory. The Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology (CJO) published research in September 2020 on the effectiveness of widespread visor adoption by assessing eye injury rates during the 2010–2018 seasons. The research showed a strong decrease in the number of eye injuries and a moderate decrease in the number of missed games once the visor rule was in effect.

“The research highlights the success of visors and proves that eye protection actually works,” adds Dr. Ford. “These days, I see more eye injuries from visorless recreational hockey players, racquet sports, and other sports such as paintball.”

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society urges everyone participating in sports to wear protective eyewear appropriate for the sport or activity. Parents can also teach their children early on to help get them in the habit of wearing protective eyewear to avoid an injury or damage to their eyesight.

Click HERE for the full press release.

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