By Zack Steele
Since July is Eye Safety Awareness Month, I thought I would bring up a subject I take very seriously, and that’s safety eyewear for sports.
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I am a big sports fan. I played sports growing up and played college baseball for about a week (actually, it was two years, but it felt like a week). I still like to watch sports at all levels, especially baseball.
I cringe every time I see a young person playing any sport with regular eyeglass frames. It makes for a dangerous situation.
Regular frames for everyday wear are not made for contact from a ball, elbow or foot. Frames will break if hit hard enough and the resulting injury can be sight-threatening.
Imagine a “bad hop” in a little league game that happens to hit the shortstop wearing his or her eyeglasses. Most likely the lenses will not shatter, but the frame will. A broken frame can have razor sharp edges that can lacerate the globe of the eye, causing permanent injury.
You may scoff at the odds of something like this happening, but I saw this catastrophic injury first hand.
I was 14 and a teammate of mine named Josh was running on a play from first to second base. While making an attempt at a double play, the opposing second baseman inadvertently threw the ball right into Josh’s face. His glasses shattered, slicing his eye. My teammate and friend had emergency surgery that night on his eye. Josh’s retina on his right eye was torn, causing permanent vision loss. His promising baseball career was over.
I remember those few moments like they were yesterday. I still wince when I think about it. Every day, when a child comes in needing glasses that plays a competitive sport, I am reminded of Josh.
That’s why I always tell my patients and parents to make sure to have standard sports frames and lenses. I know when we think of sports glasses we are reminded of the goggles of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But these days, they actually look stylish, and most importantly, they protect the eyes from situations like what I’ve described.
Believe me, it’s worth the extra money on a pair of these glasses to protect your child’s eyes from harm.
Dr. Zack Steele is a 2003 graduate of the UAB School of Optometry. His practice, Trussville Vision Care, is located on Chalkville Mountain Road in downtown Trussville.