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University of Iowa News Release

Release: April 7, 2003

UI Promotes Sports Eye Safety Month

From major league stadiums to small-town courts, America's favorite pastimes make great memories for many. But for more than 42,000 athletes, those memories are ruined by eye injuries, the vast majority of which were preventable.

In recognition of April's designation as Sports Eye Safety Month, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and eye specialists across the nation urge all athletes to wear appropriate protective eyewear.

"Athletes need to choose protective eyewear because eye injuries can be devastating - not just career ending, but life changing. Eye injuries are one of the leading causes of visual impairment in children," said William Scott, M.D., professor emeritus in the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. "Children can end up with injuries ranging from abrasions of the cornea and bruises of the lids to internal eye injuries such as retinal detachments and internal bleeding. Unfortunately, some of these athletes end up with permanent vision loss and blindness."

Athletes can now choose from various types of sturdy, lightweight, effective and fashionable eyewear. When they wear polycarbonate lenses that have been properly fitted by an eye care professional, eyewear does not hinder performance and can prevent 90 percent of sports eye injuries.

Basketball, football, hockey and baseball are not the only sports that contribute to thousands of eye injuries each year. Soccer, tennis, golf and water sports are also dangerous to the eyes. Each of these sports require a different type of protective eyewear, so see an eye doctor or other eye care professional for eyewear appropriate for your sport.

Sports are the leading cause of eye injuries in children, but most sporting leagues do not require their young athletes to wear eye protection. Yet when they do, the occurrence of eye injuries is greatly reduced. Until mandatory eye protection comes to children's sporting leagues, it is up to adults to lobby for and protect young athletes.

Some professionals, including NBA All-Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and NFL Hall of Fame player Eric Dickerson, have already gotten the message -- sports eye protection does not hinder performance, it protects eyes and careers.

Whatever your game, whatever your age, protect your eyes with appropriate protective eyewear.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Planning, Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room 8798 JPP, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009.

CONTACT: Tom Moore, (319) 356-3945, thomas-moore@uiowa.edu.

DIGEST: UI Promotes Sports Eye Safety Month

Athletes across America need to take more steps to reduce their risk for serious eye injuries, according to a University of Iowa ophthalmologist.

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