And since April is the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Sports Safety Month, it's important to think about protecting your eyes when playing.
Now that the March Madness college basketball championship is over (boo hoo for my University of Michigan team), you'll want to be aware that injuries in sports don't always involve a projectile object (baseball, lacrosse, others). Sometimes it is flailing elbows under the rim. That's why Kareem Abdul Jabbar and others wore protective goggles.
In my practice, however, it's tennis that's the culprit. And in particular, women playing doubles. They hit the ball strongly and from close range while playing at the net. Figuring that each player is only 3 to 4 feet from the net, there is simply not enough time to react when that fuzzy yellow ball come whistling directly at your face.
And you would be wrong if you figured that the worst that can happen is redness, or even worse, a painful scratched cornea.
Nope. Due to the speed and weight of the ball, which combine to form "momentum," the ball also causes a direct, blunt force injury to the soft eyeball. That can result in bleeding inside the eye, glaucoma and high pressure, retinal detachment, and permanent blindness.
Funny, no one whacking these balls at each other at high speed ever thinks about tennis as a sport that can cause eye injuries, so the women tend not to wear eye protection. And it is rare to see a pro wearing eye protection on the court. But then again, they have better aim and¬†hit the ball to an area of open court rather than at their opponent.
God gave us two good eyes for a reason. But why place one at risk?*Paul Krawitz, M.D., F.A.A.O.
Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology
President, Vitamin Science, Inc.