According to many eye care professionals who have studied sports eye injuries, the risk of eye injury whilst playing squash is high. In Melbourne, Australia a study was conducted in 2002 that revealed that 3% of adult squash players sustained an eye injury during the 12 month period. Although this figure may appear low, the severity of an eye injury while playing squash can life-changing. Appropriate squash eyewear can prevent this.
Squash is played in a very confined space and the last thing anyone wants is to be struck in the eye by a fast flying ball or racquet. Although you will encounter many players that choose not to wear squash goggles, the best advice is that you should always wear them every time you play or practice squash.
What are the common eye injuries?
- Hyphaema: Bleeding inside the eye, which can have long term complications and possibly lead to glaucoma.
- Pupil Injury: Tears to the iris can distort the pupil and lead to an inability to focus.
- Retinal Damage: Hemorrhage and swelling of the retina can permanently reduce vision.
- Orbital Fractures: Surgery is often needed and double vision or disfigurement can result.
Choosing the right squash eyewear
For maximum protection you should choose a pair of goggles with polycarbonate lenses. In the US, the goggles must meet something called the ASTM-F803 standard. It’s absolutely fine to wear contact lenses as long as you also wear polycarbonate lenses over them.
It’s easy to get confused when browsing online and incorrectly purchase a pair of generic safety glasses. Always choose a pair of specific squash goggles. There are different types of squash goggles such as those held in place with regular arms (for example this pair of iArmour glasses from Dunlop), or those that are held securely in place with an elasticated strap (such as this pair of Impulse goggles from Head).
Can I use squash eyewear if I also wear glasses?
Regular prescription glasses are not a safe alternative to squash eyewear. There are two options available to you if you also wear prescription glasses:
1. There are certain ASTM-F803 approved visors that can be worn over the top of your prescription glasses. A good example of this would be the iMask. These are both comfortable and practical when protecting your eyes from injury.
2. There are companies out there that specialise in making ASTM-F803 approved prescription squash eyewear. You should speak to your optician about this as they should be able to advise you on what options are available locally. Alternatively they can bought online from specialist manufacturers.
What should I do if I have an eye injury
- You or your playing partner should stop play and seek urgent medical attention.
- If in doubt about the severity of an eye injury, always seek medical attention. Do not leave anything to chance.
- Sit upright or in a semi-sitting position while waiting for an ambulance.
- To treat a black eye, apply a cold compress to the closed eye. Don’t put ice on the eyeball itself.