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KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL!

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by Alison Hogan

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As the baseball season opens, and you're thinking about scraped knees, thighs and shins, don't forget the face - an area of most concern to eye doctors and dentists. A study presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology showed that baseball is the number one cause of severe sports-related ocular and pediatric dental injuries in the U.S.

The U.S. Eye Injury Registry, in a study done with Prevent Blindness Indiana and the Midwest Eye Institute Foundation, found that one in 200 players has a facial injury serious enough to warrant medical attention in a single season; that batters and runners account for 40 percent of facial injuries; and that the source of the injury was a baseball (in 60 percent of cases), a softball (38 percent), the bat (1 percent), and collision with another player (1 percent).

What's the solution? Prevent Blindness Indiana studied the use of face guards on batters' helmets, and found that when players used them, it didn't affect their game performance; and that once used to them, the young players were happy enough to continue wearing them. Players wearing face guards for the season in the Indiana study showed a 52 percent decrease in facial injuries.

Retailing around $10, face guards affix to the standard youth batter's helmet (which your Little Leaguer is probably already accustomed to wearing). Face guards must conform to ASTM standards, which mandate that they can prevent face contact from a ball fired at 69 mph.


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