Posted: 19 Mar 2019
Protecting Our Child's Vision
It can be quite easy for us to take our own eyesight for granted and not consider the safety of using glasses in our everyday lives. Yet, when it comes to our children, this is never the case.
For our little ones, taking part in sport and other activities is a key part of growing up – socialising, picking up new skills and staying healthy is essential in their younger years. As they grow and find an activity they truly love and enjoy, they will meet new, like-minded individuals and start developing into an independent young person.
Protecting our child’s vision in sport and other activities will always be one of our number one priorities. After recent reports from the Manchester Evening News (MEN) regarding a 10 year old losing his sight from a football to face, it raises the issue that glasses should not always be your first and only choice.
Taking part in sports is a prime example of when glasses could lead to more harm than good, especially with contact sports. Sports injuries are the leading cause of children’s eye injuries and blindness, so minimising these risks is deeply important.
“Many parents think that ordinary glasses provide eye protection when playing sports, it’s true that children’s glasses are made with polycarbonate lenses but the frames are easily broken and the pieces can cause serious eye injury.”
There are always options out there to protect our child’s vision from the unforeseen but with more than 25% of children’s eye injuries being caused by sporting accidents; it’s up to us to identify the best option to reduce the risk of incorrect eyewear for our children.
The Dangers of Glasses in Sport
We contacted Erin Sluka from Parenting Healthy to give her views on eyewear and the dangers they can have while playing sport:
“My son plays sports and many of his teammates wear glasses too. As a parent (even when it is not my own child) when you see the game stop and coaches heading onto the basketball court for the kid rubbing his eyes and holding his glasses, it makes your heart stop a second. We all know that a ball to the face while wearing glasses can be dangerous. Thankfully, there are sport glasses available but not always at an affordable price. Contacts for kids are more common and the best option.
After we find the child is OK after a ball to the face with glasses, we then hope the glasses are ok! Why? The out-of-pocket cost on broken glasses is always unexpected and can drain that pay period fast. I heard that, according to the Vision Service Plan, the average cost of eyeglasses nationally is $196 (£150). Try coming up with that amount suddenly so he/she is prepared for school with new glasses!
As a parent my tips are to invest in safe sports glasses for your little athlete. Better yet, make them a consultation for contacts. And as a personal lesson to share: wearing regular glasses is very uncomfortable and more appropriate eyewear or contacts can make for an improved player right away.”
Ocular Trauma – Vision Loss in the Developed World
Ocular trauma is something we hope never happens to us or our child at an early age. Unfortunately, it can happen. In the journal ‘Spectacle-Induced Ocular Trauma: An Unusual Mechanism’, we hear of a 16-year-old boy who suffered from ocular trauma whilst playing cricket – the ball hitting the teen’s face and resulting in the glasses arm going into his eye and causing retinal detachment.
One of the main risk factors of ocular trauma is the wrong eyewear or non-protective eyewear. However, wearing protective eyewear over glasses can be quite tricky, hence why many children opt for prescription contact lenses so that they can continue with their protective eyewear over the top. This is not just cost effective but also minimises the risk of ocular trauma.
Athletes & Eyewear
When it comes to sports, our optometrists have always recommended soft, daily disposable contact lenses. Made with either hydrogel or silicone hydrogel, these lenses become soft and ‘gel-like’ when worn. Now, this is not to say that contact lenses provide all the protection needed in sport, but their soft material reduces the risk of harm on impact – which is common in contact sports.
Many athletes wear disposable contact lenses instead of glasses in sport, which is probably why we never wonder whether some of the best athletes in the world have a prescription. For example, in cricket or hockey, contact lenses are commonly used under additional head gear.Daily disposables are easy to use and can be thrown away at the end of the day – making them perfect for sport. Simply put them in beforehand and take them out afterwards.
Even in the football world, our child’s most loved athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo choose to wear lenses instead of glasses or goggles to protect their eyes from impact injuries.
Glasses and their Effect on Kid’s Sports Performance
It’s not only damage to our children’s vision that is important, correct eyewear is essential to maximise their performance in their beloved sport. Glasses are renowned for fogging up, falling off and limiting peripheral vision. On top of this, children will likely worry about damaging them or worse, having glass smash so close to their eyes.
The result may be that children begin ‘holding back’ or not playing to their full potential. Physical sports are an integral part of childhood, particularly during secondary school with 100 minutes of sport a week being the minimum requirement these days. On top of playing during breaks and lunches, ensuring our child feels comfortable with their eyewear should be of paramount importance to us.
When can Children Start to Wear Contact Lenses?
Children can wear contact lenses at any age, but many begin to their contact lens journey around 11-14 years old. Your optometrist will decide when your child is ready to wear lenses based on their lifestyle. They will ask your child to insert the lenses over two visits and if they are satisfied that your child is ready, they will also recommend the right brand and type for them.