Three generations of women, including an infant, looking at a digital tablet
Three generations of women, including an infant, looking at a digital tablet

Children’s Eye Safety

Despite all the things you do to keep your children safe—at home, on the playground and in the car—accidents happen. Each year, thousands of children visit emergency rooms and doctors’ offices with eye injuries.

Most eye injuries come from a handful of causes. Toys that are used inappropriately; falling into or off a piece of furniture; using tools and other common household objects incorrectly (such as running with scissors); aerosols and chemicals; and car accidents when children are not in safety seats. Taking proper precautions such as wearing goggles or safety glasses with side shields can help prevent eye injuries.

Protective Eyewear Matters

Regular sunglasses, eyeglasses and contacts do not protect children from eye injuries, and, in some cases, glasses can shatter and make an injury worse. However, most protective eyewear is customizable and can be made to match your child’s glasses or contacts prescriptions. Your child can also wear safety goggles over their regular glasses or contacts.

Protective eyewear is made of polycarbonate—a strong shatterproof and impact-resistant type of plastic. Polycarbonate lenses stand up to sudden, sharp impact. Many goggles or safety glasses come with tints to reduce sun glare and protect against ultraviolet (UV) rays as well. There are many different types of protective eyewear for sports, including safety goggles, face guards, and special eyewear designed for specific sports. Make sure that you’re using the right kind of eye protection for each activity. Choose eye protection that has been tested to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.

Did You Know?

Eye injuries are one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, and most of these injuries occur while kids are playing sports. Wearing protective eyewear can prevent 90% of these injuries.

Kids + Sports

Sports deserve particular attention, as eye injuries happen often in young athletes between five and 14 years of age. All kids need protective eyewear while playing sports. Remember that ordinary prescription eyeglasses do not provide adequate protection—protective eyewear should be sport-specific.

Basketball, softball and baseball account for more eye injuries than other sports. Fencing, mountain biking, paintball, airsoft rifles, pellet guns, racquetball and hockey are also higher-risk sports. Helmets and the appropriate protective eyewear are a must for you and your child.

Because youth sports leagues don’t always require protective eyewear for players, it’s important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the risks and make sure your child wears protective eyewear to prevent serious eye injuries. Wearing protective eyewear may help to prevent nine out of 10 eye injuries.

Prevention + Safety Tips for Parents and Caregivers

Children learn through imitation. Help your child learn healthy habits by demonstrating the right behavior for safe play and work:

  • Practice care and take safety precautions when handling common items that can cause serious eye injuries, such as paper clips, pencils, scissors, bungee cords, wire coat hangers and rubber bands
  • Keep all chemicals and sprays out of reach of small children
  • Always make sure your child’s toys are age appropriate
  • Find toys marked with "ASTM," which means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials
  • Childproof your home by using safety gates at the bottom and top of stairs, placing pads on sharp corners and placing locks on cabinets and doors within your child’s reach
  • Do not allow children anywhere near fireworks, such as bottle rockets. These fireworks pose a serious risk of eye injury and have been banned in several states
  • When on the road:
    • Properly secure children in baby carriers and child safety seats and ensure that seat and shoulder belts fit well
    • Store any loose items by placing them in the trunk or securely on the floor, as any loose objects can become dangerous projectiles in the event of a crash
  • Teach your children by safeguarding your own sight with ANSI-approved protective eyewear during potentially dangerous activities, such as yard work and household repairs or projectslink-out icon

See Also: Eye Trauma

First Aid Advice

If your child's eye is injured, you should always get immediate, professional medical attention—even if the injury seems minor at first, as serious injury is not always initially obvious. This is the best way to safeguard your child's vision. Delaying medical attention can cause damaged areas to worsen and could result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

While seeking medical help, care for your child in the following ways (these tips are not meant to replace professional medical attention):


  • Do gently cover cuts or puncture wounds. Protect the eye by placing a protective shield—such as a paper cup—on the bone around the eye
  • Do flush the eye with plenty of water for 20 to 30 minutes (only in the event of chemical exposure) and get immediate, professional medical attention


  • Do not touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye
  • Do not attempt to remove any foreign objects stuck in the eye, as doing so may tear delicate tissue or force the object in deeper
    • For small debris, lift eyelid and ask your child to blink rapidly to trigger the eye’s natural tears to flush out the particle. If ineffective, close the eye and continue seeking medical attention
  • Do not apply ointment or medication to the eye

Protecting Children’s Eyes in the Sun

The sun’s rays can be harmful to the eyes. Sunlight is strongest midday to early afternoon. Too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light raises our risk of eye diseases and other issues. Sunlight is also stronger at higher altitudes and when reflected off water, ice or snow. Take simple precautions to keep your child's eyes safe outdoors during every season:

  • Choose sunglasses with UV protection to help protect your child’s eyes. Sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection block both forms of ultraviolet rays
  • Choose a broad-brimmed hat for your child along with sunglasses to help block indirect sun, which can come into the eyes around the edges of sunglasses
  • Remember that clouds do not block UV light. The sun's rays can pass through haze and clouds
  • Tell your child never to look directly at the sun. Doing so at any time, including during an eclipse, can damage the eyes and cause solar retinopathy, a serious injury

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