Standards for protective eyewear for children and public health campaigns encouraging its use are crucial to reducing the incidence of ocular injuries in children, according to a clinical focus article published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Ms Annette Hoskin, Research Fellow and her colleagues, from the Lions Eye Institute in Perth, reported that in Australia, 10% of severe ocular trauma in children occurred during sporting activities, with permanent visual damage resulting in 27% of those cases. Forty-eight per cent of eye injuries occurred in the home while playing with easily accessible objects.
"Due to their developing physical coordination, limited ability to detect risks inherent in the environment and more vulnerable facial morphology, children are at higher risk of ocular trauma compared with adults", the authors wrote.
"Moreover, given that a child's visual development continues from birth until 7-8 years of age, visual outcomes following trauma are worse in children than adults, affecting their subsequent career and social opportunities as an adult.
"By adopting simple protective measures, such as using eye protectors when necessary, 90% of ocular injury is preventable", they wrote.
In the United States, the reduction in the incidence of eye injuries in some sports such as lacrosse and hockey was attributable to adoption of mandatory protective eyewear and development of product standards and policy statements.
However, uptake of protective eyewear in Australia remained low at around 19%.
Deterrents included discomfort, poor visibility, unsuitable material, lack of cosmetic appeal, availability, cost, and a lack of education on eye protection.
Ms Hoskin and her coauthors identified the need for further collection of appropriate eye injury data and the development of health education campaigns about eye protection for children.
They also called for "specific standards to protect functionally one-eyed children and those at higher risk of eye injury; to determine when dress optical spectacles should be replaced with prescription eye protectors; and to identify which sports and activities pose a medium to high risk of eye injury and require that participants use eye protection."