Mike Delaney was playing softball with some friends from church when the ball took a bad bounce, hit him in the eye and changed his life forever.
Mike was not wearing protective eyewear when he was injured, but he is now a passionate advocate about the importance of eye protection in sports.
His local paper recently recounted Mike’s story, which begins during the softball game in July 2009 when the ball bounced from the ground into Mike’s right eye with enough impact to tear his retina in half. Surgery and an entire month of lying face down (and very still) followed. Unfortunately, the treatment was not effective: at the time Mike was interviewed, he was still not able to see through that eye.
Mike told the newspaper he can no longer watch baseball games—not because of his vision problem, but because he is fearful he will witness a player suffer an eye injury like his. And he is now an “independent sports eyewear consultant” who spends much of his time discussing the need for eye protection with area athletic directors and sports-league officials. He reports that it is not an easy sell, but hopes that protective eyewear will someday be as common as shin guards and helmets.
We can all admire and support Mike’s mission. According to the National Eye Institute, emergency rooms in United States treat a sports-related eye injury every 13 minutes. Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children, and most eye injuries in kids aged 11 to 14 occur during sports. The NEI estimates that there are more than 100,000 sports-related eye injuries in the United States every year—and that 90 percent of these injuries could be prevented with the proper protective eyewear.
Chances are good that your child won’t want to use protective eyewear for baseball, basketball and other sports that don’t usually require it, but that’s one battle every parent should take on—and win.
Here’s a handy reference from Prevent Blindness America that lists the types of eye protection required by specific sports and the kinds of injuries they prevent.