It Is a parent's dream to raise kids that are well-grounded in and out of the classroom. When they participate in sports, children not only increase their physical fitness, confidence and self-esteem, they also learn about teamwork and self-discipline. Yet for whatever reason, kids run the risk of serious injury by not taking the proper safety precautions.
"I think the priority is not always where it should be."
Dr. Evelyn Paysse is a pediatric ophthalmologist at Texas Children's Hospital.
"The sports leagues actually don't emphasize, really, the most important things to protect. For example in soccer, you're required to wear shin guards to protect your shins from getting bruised, from getting kicked. Well, a bruise will heal without leaving any permanent damage, but there is no requirement to wear sports goggles in soccer, and if you get hit in the eye with a soccer ball, you can lose your eye."
Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in the United States. Paysse says most of those occurring in school-aged children are sports-related.
"The majority of the injuries that we see are related to 'ball' type sports, such as baseball, basketball, volleyball, and so as you get older, the children are stronger, and the ball is traveling at a faster speed, and so the injuries are worse by that nature. At Texas Children's Hospital we see about three to four sports injuries per week, and many of them are serious, so across the country these serious injuries could really be reduced with proper protection."
Sports-related injuries in the United States account for more than a hundred thousand visits to the doctor's office each year at a cost of 175-million dollars.
"The most fear of any person, the most sense they lose is vision. So to me, there's no dollar amount you could put on protecting that."
Ed Greene is chief executive officer for the Vision Council, a non profit trade association representing eye-wear manufacturers. He agrees with Dr Paysse that education and just spreading the word will help cut down on the number of eye injuries that can be avoided.
"Well, trying to get word out to parents, we certainly do a major talking piece with the doctors, trying to get them to talk to patients about buying a pair of glasses that are protective. I think there's a couple of easy things that we should do. Parents should wear protective eye-wear to start with. If they set the example, their kids will do it."
More information on protective eye-wear can be found at www.thevisioncouncil.org.