Safety glasses are usually not a standard part of a typical sports or work uniform, but perhaps they should be. The correction and protection they offer can make the difference between seeing clearly and blurrily. They can also mean the difference between eye health and eye injury.
Safety Glasses for Sight
One reason for wearing safety glasses during sports and work activities (particularly in work environments where debris is common) is perhaps the most obvious reason: to correct poor eyesight. Per the Nationwide Children's Hospital, some of the most common conditions that affect the eyes include: myopia (near-sightedness); hyperopia (far-sightedness); accommodative esotropia (when they eyes become crossed); astigmatism (when the cornea is oval-shaped instead of round); and anisometropia (poor vision often seen in one eye as a result of the eyes being different from each other).
Aside from correcting eyesight, safety glasses may also reduce glare (from sunlight, lasers, or gym lights) and reduce eyestrain (which often happens when the eyes are focused on one area for a prolonged time).
Anyone with eye trouble should wear glasses or corrective lenses during all waking hours. Safety goggles, because they are not breakable, should be worn during physical activity, or while engaging in any activity where contact and trauma are possibilities.
The Incidence of Eye Injuries
Another reason to wear safety glasses is for protection. Anyone who plays a sport and anyone who works in an environment where things (such as chemicals, wood chips, or metal) can fly into the eye will benefit from the protective barrier sports glasses offer. This is because eye injuries can be common, and they can also be tragic. In sports, they are particularly prevalent.
Per the American Family Physician, sports lead to over 40,000 eye injuries each year. The most dangerous sports for the eyes are basketball and baseball, with water sports and racquet sports also being risky.
Injuries most often occur as the result of blunt trauma (such as a baseball shattering the eye socket), penetration (such as a finger gouging one of the eyes) and radiation (which is caused by being in the sun for too long).
The Seriousness of Eye Injuries
Eye injuries, when they occur, can range from minor to extremely serious. In some of the worst cases, surgery is required and blindness may result: according to the National Eye Health Education Program, eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children, with the majority of those occurring during sports.
While preserving the health of the eye is the most important reason to wear safety glasses, there is also a financial value. Internationally, sports-related eye injuries cost between $175 and $200 million each year. Wearing protective eyewear can significantly decrease insurance costs by preventing eye injuries before they happen. Ninety percent of eye injuries are preventable, and in fact, hockey face protectors alone have saved an estimated 10 million injuries annually.
Eyesight is perhaps the most treasured of all the senses: protecting it is imperative to protecting the beauty of life. Thus, wearing safety goggles during sports and when working in certain work environments is a small price to pay to for the valuable gift of sight.