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Girls playing lacrosse

Proper Eyewear Promotes Sports Performance

By: Marti Mansfield, ATC

When it comes to sports performance, don’t overlook an integral part of your child’s uniform: proper eyewear.

About 10 percent of preschoolers have a vision problem, but many kids keep their symptoms to themselves. Some might even think seeing double or having blurry vision is normal. While visual acuity does not need to be 20/20 for sports participation, poor vision can affect your child’s performance. More importantly, it can increase their risk for injury.

When children play sports, it helps if they have clear distance vision, good depth perception, wide field of vision, and effective hand-eye coordination.

Children should have their eyes checked by a pediatrician regularly, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If needed, your child’s pediatrician may recommend further testing with a pediatric ophthalmologist. A comprehensive, dilated eye exam can detect any serious problems or disease. Children who need to wear corrective lenses may make their vision worse if they don’t regularly wear glasses or contacts.

Fortunately, with so many youth playing sports today, there are many eyewear options for young players. Consider the following four tips when selecting proper eyewear for your child

Try contact lenses if glasses won’t work.

Some children are hesitant to wear glasses while they play sports because the frames feel awkward or the lenses fog up, obstructing their vision. If this is the case, ask your child’s eye doctor if contact lenses would be appropriate. Studies suggest that with proper guidance and training, contact lenses are safe for children and teens. These lenses have the benefit of staying in place on the eyes and improving peripheral vision during sports and activities.

Customize prescription goggles if needed.

For those involved in water sports, the most common type of prescription swim goggle sold is a ready-to-wear version. This kind of goggle comes in varying standard powers. These are fine if your child’s eye doctor has told you which correct power to buy. However, if your child has a high prescription or there is a difference between the right and left eye powers, then custom-made prescription goggles would be best.

Protect vision from injury.

Sometimes a child should wear eyewear even though their vision is perfect. Protective eyewear is recommended in any sport in which the eyes could be injured by either physical or chemical trauma. High-risk sports include racket sports, field hockey, ice hockey, soccer, baseball, softball, and lacrosse. Look for high-impact frames that wrap around the head to maintain proper placement or other specific design modifications.

Shield young eyes from UV rays.

Sunglasses help athletes who play outdoors because it’s easier to track a ball heading your way when the sun isn’t blinding you. At the same time, sunglasses prevent damaging UV rays from harming your child’s eyes and increasing their risk for cataracts later in life.

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About CHKD Sports Medicine

About CHKD Sports Medicine  CHKD's sports medicine program offers the most comprehensive care for your young athlete. From diagnosis and treatment to customized rehabilitation plans, we specialize in physical therapy and injury prevention programs for active children and teens. Our team is composed of pediatric orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physician assistants, certified athletic trainers and pediatric sports medicine physical therapists.