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Protecting Your Eyes When Playing Sport

By: Heather Marshall - Updated: 8 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Polarised Lenses snow Blindness

Many people wear protective clothing or headgear when playing sport to protect themselves from injury. However we often forget to protect our eyes. Sport is one of the biggest causes of serious eye injury in the UK. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has estimated that squash balls account for around 2,000 hospital admissions each year. Protective sports goggles are now widely available and are becoming more popular. They are also worn by those who don’t normally need to wear glasses or contact lenses.

For sport players who do need to wear glasses, wearing sport goggles can improve their performance. Where previously they were unable to wear glasses at all, with sport goggles they can safely see much better.

Sport Goggles

There are different goggles available for all types of sport. In sports where you need to wear headgear such as ice hockey, there are designs available which will fit under the headgear. The majority of goggles are designed for racquet sports such as squash, badminton and tennis where there is a danger from flying objects. The lenses in goggles are made from polycarbonate which is a type of plastic that is impact and scratch-resistant. Polycarbonate also has the benefit of protecting against ultraviolet rays which is great if you are playing sport outside.

The frames are also specially designed for playing sport. These are made out of polycarbonate so that they are impact-resistant. The frames will have rubber cushioning to ensure they fit comfortably especially on the nose and over the ears. Sports goggles also come in a wraparound style. These are particularly good for outdoor sports such as cycling and sailing as they keep out dust and wind.

Swimming and Diving

For people who need to wear glasses or contact lenses it can be beneficial to have special eyewear for underwater activities. Special swimming goggles and diving masks can help you to see better underwater although your vision will not be as good as on land. This is true for everyone as the water acts as a magnifier and it becomes more difficult to see underwater. Swimming goggles are available for those who wear glasses or contact lenses. Prescription goggles will protect your eyes from the chlorine in the pool and ensure you can see underwater. They are fitted with rubber to ensure they fit tightly to prevent any water leaking in.

Diving masks are also available as prescription masks. The lens can be all one prescription or different lenses can be inserted between the mask and the person’s eyes. It depends on whether you need different lenses for each eye. As most people have a similar prescription in each eye, a pre-made prescription dive mask will provide enough clarity to read gauges and move around underwater.

If you wear contact lenses you can sometimes wear these with a non-prescription dive mask but you should check with your optician. The pressure at certain depths can mean that Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) and hard lenses can dig into the eye. Soft lenses may also not be suited as they can collect waterborne bacteria which could lead to developing a disease in the eye.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Skiers and snow boarders are at risk of snow blindness if they do not protect their eyes. Snow combined with a cold wind and bright sunlight can cause this condition which is also known as photokeratisis. This is a temporary condition but can be very painful, affecting the cornea of the eye. According to the World Health Organisation snow can reflect up to 80% of light compared with normal ground surfaces which reflect around 10% of light. Ski goggles will provide good protection from ultraviolet rays and have a large lens area so you have a wide field of view and good peripheral vision. Ski goggles can be fitted with polarised lenses to reduce the glare from the snow.

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