Play Hard Don't Blink

Play Hard Don't Blink

The Ohio Ophthalmological Society (OOS) has developed a sports eye safety program called Play Hard. Don't Blink. Always Wear Protective Eyewear. Play Hard. Don't Blink. combines education for parents and coaches with a variety of protective gear, activities, and information designed to make safe playing habits cool to kids. The program works with schools, youth leagues and organizations throughout the state to provide protective eyewear in effort to reduce eye and facial injuries.

Why sports eye safety?

Americans are an active group. It seems that more and more of us are becoming involved in one of more physical activities for recreation, fun, or as a way to stay fit. Every year, hospital emergency departments throughout the country treat over 45,000 sports-related and recreational eye injuries. Over 71% of the injuries occur in individuals under 25, 40% are in young people under 15, and 6% happen to children under 6.

When properly fitted, appropriate eye protection can reduce the risk of eye injuries by at least 90%. Here is the recommended eye protection for several popular sports:

  • Baseball: Polycarbonate face guard or other certified safe protection attached to batting helmet; sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses for playing in the field.
  • Basketball: Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses.Fencing: Full face cage.Field Hockey: Goalie: full face-mask; all others: sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses.
  • Handball/Racquetball/Squash: Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses. Ice Hockey. Helmet and full-face protection.
  • Lacrosse: Helmet and full-face protection.
  • Soccer: Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses.
  • Softball: Polycarbonate face guard on batting helmet; sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses for playing in the field.
  • Street Hockey: Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses; goalie: full-face cage.
  • Swimming and pool sports: Swim goggles recommended.
  • Tennis/doubles: Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses.Tennis/singles: Sturdy street-wear frames with polycarbonate lenses.
  • Water Polo: Swim goggles with polycarbonate lenses.

Reports from competitors in several sports have verified that face guards and protective eyewear do not impair their concentration or reduce their ability to focus. Some coaches feel that the extra protection actually enhances their young athletes' concentration and alleviates their fear of injuries.

Save Our Site

Play Hard. Don't Blink. is funded through the Ohio Department of Health Save Our Sight Program. The Save Our Sight Program was created to ensure that children in Ohio have good vision and healthy eyes. The program accomplishes this through the early identification of children with vision problems and the promotion of good eye health and safety. Citizens of Ohio fund the program through voluntary $1 donations when they apply for or renew their license plates and tags. Link here to Save Our Sight Fund 

With your continued support and encouragement to use eye protection, we can reduce eye injuries and make competition safer for young athletes in all sports.

If your school, team or community would like more information about keeping kids eyes safe while playing sports, please call the OOS at (614) 527-6799 or visit the Play Hard. Don't Blink. Always Wear Protective Eyewear. website at