Eye Safety with Dr. Berman

Sports are a big deal to the Tots to Teens family, we have children who play sports and some of us like to go out there and play sports too{eh hem}. When I was given the opportunity to speak with Dr. Paul Berman, OD, FAAO, and chairman of The Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries about eye related sports injuries I could NOT pass it up. 

I’m glad I didn’t because I learned so much.  I even learned I was doing things wrong when it came to my family’s eye safety {blushing}!  Conversely this is why we do these informative interviews to learn and grow, and in return we hope you will pass the knowledge on.

T2T: What are the dangers athletes face without the use of protective eyewear?

Dr.Berman: The greatest risk for children and teens playing sports is an eye injury or blindness. The greatest risk for blindness is not caused by glaucoma, or macular degeneration, or cataracts those don’t happen with young people because these are age related eye diseases.

T2T: What sport has the most eye injuries?

Dr. Berman: Well between the ages of 5-12 it is baseball, and from ages 12- and up it is basketball.

T2T: That is surprising basketball?

Dr. Berman: Yes, there are people reaching for the ball swatting with their fingers and that can cause eye injuries, as well as the ball being thrown to hard.

Actually, Amare Stoudemire is a spokesperson for eye protection.  Amare Stoudemire endured an injury to the eye {retinal detachment} while playing basketball.  Amare will not go on the court without eye protection.

Click Here to see Amare Stoudemire speak about the importance of eye protection.

T2T: The 5-12 demographic you mentioned playing baseball just stroke a cord with me.  I have a daughter who plays softball and the T2T family has plenty of little baseball players.

Dr. Berman: I should have mentioned softball this has a great potential for danger too.  Fielding 1st or 3rd base is a possible eye injury danger as well, and there is talk of mandating eye protection.

T2T:  I would love that!

Dr. Berman: Many of these eye injuries do not just occur during the game but in practice. The good news is that 90% of these eye injuries are preventable according to Prevent Blindness America, and the answer is eye protection.  Part of protecting yourself is visiting a VSP optometrist and discuss the sports you play, and then he or she can come up with the solution.

There are standards, there are a lot of glasses that protect against UV radiation but you need to get glasses that are certified sports protected.  American Society for Testing and Materials {ASTM},  ASTM measures the strength of the glasses by throwing balls at different speeds to see what the glasses can withstand impact and protect.

T2T: Many parents tell their children “Put your sunglasses on” when the kids go out to play or practice… myself included.  I understand this is a bad idea.

Dr. Berman: Yes, those sunglasses have a potential to become a projectile into the eye. Injuries are much more severe when wearing sunglasses.  Sunglasses are great when you are outside to protect you from the ultra violet radiation but not while you are playing sports. When playing the proper eyewear needed is ASTM certified.

 

T2T: Where can parents find certified eyewear?

Dr. Berman: You can get these glasses at your VSP optometrist if you need a prescription. You can also find non-prescriptive ASTM certified eyewear at many sports stores.

T2T: What can we do to make the use of protective eyewear mandatory?  I don’t believe many parents are aware of the potential dangers their children may incur without the use of protective eyewear.  I also do not believe many parents see sunglasses/glasses on the field or court as a possible threat.

Dr. Berman: Number 1 is consumer education!  What we are doing here today is great we are informing your readers— the facts speak for themselves.  We are working on a legislative initiative, were we insist on mandatory education.  We have a bill before the New Jersey senate that already passed the assembly, which mandates that every parent whom signs their child up for a sport is given a sheet of information that explains the risk of eye injuries and how to protect against eye injuries.

It is an educational campaign and I’m glad VSP adopted this. The federal government has what they call Healthy People 2020, every 10 years they come up with health scopes. One of their vision objectives is the federal government sees the need to increase the utilization of sports protective eyewear.  It is not just the industry that just sees the need for protective eyewear—people who are involved in public health see this.  Every 13 minutes a child in the United States is taken to the ER due to sports related eye injury. It’s not rare… it’s happening.

T2T: Wow, that is a startling statistic… I need to make a trip to the sporting goods store.

Dr. Berman:  See, now you are apart of the informed.  This is how it happens one person gets educated and shares with another.  Your child will wear the protective eyewear and another parent will ask why.  Thankfully, protective eyewear looks much better so there is no social stigma.

T2T:  I truly hope people become better informed about your mission to prevent sports eye injury and other states follow New Jersey’s lead.

Dr. Berman: You know we put on elbow pads, we put on sheen guards, we put on wrist guards, but we don’t put on eye guards.  Which is more tragic a bruised sheen or a lost eye? We just haven’t created the mindset that protective eyewear should be part of the gear.

T2T: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Dr. Berman: Well, we’ve been talking about children and sports however it is important for adults to take care of their eyes too.  Parents need to make sure to see their optometrist and wear protective eyewear while they play sports.  Tennis poses the greatest risk for women playing sports.  I also want parents to know that skill has nothing to do with eye injuries.  Your child may be gifted in the sport he or she is playing but they are still potentially in danger of an eye injury.

Thank you Dr. Berman!

We hope you share this information with your friends and family.

Does your child play sports?  Does your child already wear protective eyewear?

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