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Keep Eyes Safely on the Ball
American Academy of Ophthalmology and Oklahoma Academy of Ophthalmology Remind
Parents and the Public of the Importance of Protective Eyewear for Youth Sports
and Back-to-School Leagues
OKLAHOMA CITY, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Noah was seven years old when
an errant paintball smashed into his left eye and sent him from the sidelines of
his brothers' game to the emergency room.
"I remember being very dizzy and I couldn't stop vomiting," said Noah. "I had to
wait in the hospital for my eye pressure to go down and for all the blood to
drain out of my eye."
Noah later developed a cataract and a detached retina in his left eye; he
subsequently underwent successful surgery to repair the traumatic cataract and
retinal detachment. In spite of the fact that his traumatic cataract has been
removed and his retina has been repaired, he now wears a contact lens and has
some permanent double vision.
"Unfortunately this is a common story when you mix sports and the lack of proper
eye protection," said Abdhish R. Bhavsar, MD, Noah's doctor and a clinical
correspondent for the Academy. "While Noah was a bystander in this instance,
40,000 people suffer from eye injuries related to sports every year."
According to Noah's mom, "Hand and eye coordination is now very difficult for
Noah," and though he loves baseball and tennis he has decided to take up
swimming instead. Still, she says, "Noah never lets his spirits down."
Maura knows all too well how quickly an eye injury like Noah's can happen.
Thirteen years ago at hockey practice in Connecticut, she sustained a serious
hit to her eye from a teammate's hockey stick. The accident left her with years
of pain and permanent double vision in her left eye.
"She had the largest break in her eyeball that I had ever seen," said Joel S.
Schuman, MD, Maura's doctor and clinical correspondent for the Academy. "She
required multiple surgeries and we were happy and fortunate that we were able to
save her eye."
After ten surgeries Maura still struggles with her vision, but feels confident
about her efforts to change the way people view eye protection and sports.
Living in Washington, DC, she now does policy work, a natural outgrowth of the
advocacy campaign she undertook after her injury to encourage local schools to
mandate protective eyewear for school sports. Within three years after she
started the effort, most of the local schools required protective eyewear for
their field hockey teams.
"Instead of being taken down by this very serious injury, Maura turned it into a
drive to prevent it happening to others," said Dr. Schuman.
September is Children's Eye Safety Awareness Month, the Oklahoma Academy of
Ophthalmology reminds Oklahoma student athletes and school sports programs to
get EyeSmart and use appropriate, sport-specific protective eyewear properly
fitted by an eye care professional. Most youth sporting leagues don't require
protective eyewear, so parents should take special care to ensure their
children's eye safety. "This is an important way for parents to spare their
children unnecessary injury and pain," says Dr. Schuman.
"I recommend safety goggles for all sporting activities, even when it comes to
children playing in their own homes," said Dr. Bhavsar. "We even put on safety
goggles when we play catch with a baseball in our own backyard."
Learn more about eye injuries, eye diseases, and the names of Eye M.D.s in your
area by visiting www.GetEyeSmart.org.
About the Oklahoma Academy of Ophthalmology
The OAO is a member organization of nearly 100 Oklahoma ophthalmologists which
was founded to promote the science and art of medical eye care. Eye healthcare
is provided by three sources -- opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It
is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat all eye diseases and
injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the
OAO's Web site at www.OklahomaEyes.org.