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Gearing Up for Sports? Prevent Injuries with Proper Vision Safety Equipment Says CompBenefits


Atlanta, GA – April 25, 2007 – In recognition of the American Optometric Association's (AOA) support of National Youth Sports Safety Month, CompBenefits urges all participants in sporting activities to wear appropriate protective eyewear.

The health benefits of physical activity for young and old are well known. However, it is also a fact that if you play sports, you can get hurt. Whatever your age and whatever your game, it is important to make sure that play is fun, rewarding and injury free.

The AOA reports that over 40,000 sports-related eye injuries occur each year. It cites eye injuries as the leading cause of blindness in children with 12 percent of all serious eye injuries being sports-related. Prevent Blindness America estimates that 90 percent of eye injuries could have been prevented if proper eye protection gear had been used.

"Generally people recognize that sports, such as baseball, basketball, soccer, football, hockey, and paintball are most commonly associated with eye injuries," says Dr. Howard J. Braverman, president of the vision division of CompBenefits. "It's important to understand that other activities, such as racquet sports, water sports, and,even, golf and biking can be dangerous to the eyes."

Adds Dr. Braverman, "The majority of all sports eye injuries occur in people under 30 years of age. However, children are especially vulnerable to eye injury since their depth perception and coordination skills are underdeveloped."

Regardless of age or sporting activity, the three major types of eye trauma and injury resulting from sports are:
  • Corneal abrasion: a scrape of the outer surface of the eye that usually is painful but not severe, such as a scratch from a fingernail or dirt particles in the eye.
  • Blunt injuries: impact from an object, such as a tennis ball, racquet, fist, elbow, that causes sudden compression of the eye. These injuries may be mild or severe.
  • Penetrating injuries: foreign object pierces the eye, such as a splintered piece of a racquet or a piece of glass from spectacles shattered during sports play. Penetrating injuries often cause severe, sight-threatening damage.
Dr. Braverman noted that symptoms and warning signs of potentially serious eye injury include:
  • Visual loss
  • Bleeding on the surface or inside the eye
  • Tears in the outer ocular walls
  • A foreign body inside the eye
Prompt fist aid after an eye injury, such as placing a protective cover over the eye to prevent further damage, may greatly improve the chance of preserving vision. Should any of these conditions exist or persist you should seek immediate treatment by an eye care professional. The treatment depends on the injury and surgery may be required to repair blunt or penetrating injuries.

Prevention: Proper Eye Protection

The best treatment is prevention, as the old adage goes. You can protect your vision with proper eye gear. Today's sports enthusiasts can choose from various types of sturdy, lightweight, effective and fashionable eyewear.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Ophthalmology strongly recommend protective eyewear for all participants in sports in which there is risk of eye injury. There are four basic types of eyewear. The two types that are satisfactory for eye-injury risk sports include:

1.  Safety sports eyewear that conforms to the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F803 for selected sports such as racket sports, baseball fielders, basketball, women's lacrosse, and field hockey.

2.  Sports eyewear that is attached to a helmet or for sports in which ASTM standard F803 eyewear is inadequate. Those for which there are standard specifications include youth baseball batters and base runners (ASTM standard F910), paintball (ASTM standard 1776), skiing (ASTM standard 659), and ice hockey (ASTM standard F513). Other protectors with specific standards are available for football and men's lacrosse.

Prescription or nonprescription (plano) lenses may be fabricated from any of several types of clear material, including polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is the most shatter-resistant clear lens material and should be used for all safety eyewear.

Finally, whether you are participating in the game or just spectating, be sure to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses when exposed to lengthy or repetitive outdoor activities.

Enjoy the games and play safe!

About CompBenefits
CompBenefits Corporation, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, provides dental and vision benefit plans to over 4.8 million members in 31 states. CompBenefits offers a diversified portfolio of products designed to fulfill the oral health and eye health benefit needs of public and private sector employer groups, government-sponsored plans, health plans, and individuals. For more information, visit the company's website at: www.compbenefits.com.

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