What started out as a routine baseball practice two years ago ended up being one of Carter Nattrass’ worst days. While waiting in line to catch a pop fly, someone called out for him to watch out. Just as Carter turned around, the ball smacked him in the right eye.
While the swelling was severe, Carter and his parents didn’t initially think the injury was more than a good shiner. Back at school a few days later, Carter told his music teacher that he noticed something dangling in his line of vision. His teacher had experienced retinal detachment and immediately knew this symptom was a red flag. Carter was rushed to the hospital and treated, but problems kept happening. He’s now had a total of 7 different surgeries (some which required him to lay face down and immobilized during recovery for days on end) and his eyesight still isn’t back to normal.
Carter’s experience is, unfortunately, not a fluke. Sunnybrook’s Head of Ophthalmology Dr. Peter Kertes says he sees a spike in sports related eye injuries during the summer months. Activities like soccer, baseball, basketball and badminton, all sports you wouldn’t automatically associate with eye injuries.
Luckily, there is an easy fix when it comes to prevention: safety glasses. While this might sound strange, they really just look like cool sports sunglasses. Just make sure to get a polycarbonate lens that can withstand a hard impact, and extra rubber padding on the inside. Dr. Kertes says, the use of helmets and visors in hockey has significantly decreased eye injuries in that sport. Why not promote eye protection in other sports as well?
Right now, it’s an idea that’s not really on the radar with many parents, schools or sports associations. It wasn’t on my radar either, until I met Carter and saw how much he has been through. But when you know better, you do better. If either of my kids gets into sports, I’ll definitely be getting them a pair. They are available in some sports stores and many optical stores. Some, like Dexter’s Optical here at Sunnybrook, even allow you to fit them with a prescription.
Here’s to a very cool looking ounce of prevention!