Impact damage to the upper bridge of nose from impact with the ball.
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With Health & Safety becoming an increasingly important factor in many youth sports, rugby is certainly no exception. Due to full contact nature of the sport, there are plenty of instances when young players will come into contact with one another as well as the ball . . .
With a growing proportion of children and young adults now wearing glasses, there's a high probability that one or more of the team is a regular glasses wearer.
So what are the risks?
Cheek bone damage from impact with the ball
Damage to frame or loss of lenses resulting in wearer being unable to see or continue playing
Damage to the ears from impact with the ball
Glasses or no glasses?
For children and young adults playing rugby, this is a bit of an anecdotal question because the sports governing bodies have concluded that in most cases, glasses cannot be worn in full-contact versions of the sport.
For keen younger players, that also need to wear glasses, this had proved to be very unpopular with them, the clubs and parents,
because of the absence of other options.
Thankfully in 2014 the RFU recognised there was an issue and began a series of ongoing trials for under 13's using various designs of protective sports eyewear.
With the support of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, there is still an ongoing trial, accepted assessment procedure and specification of goggle available to under 13's who require vision correction.
The provision of such glasses is strictly at the discretion of the individual Optician, so it's worth checking in advance before booking any appointments.
As to the wider question about whether glasses are actually necessary. The only way to know for sure is to ask the Optician - "Can I play rugby without my glasses?" They will be able to advise you based on the prescription and visual acuity.
Eyewear options . . .
Subject to meeting the appropriate criteria, there are sports protective goggles that can be worn whist playing rugby.
High impact polycarbonate frame with no metal parts or screws
Rubber impact resistant saddle bridge provides support and improved protection
Clip together parts designed to resist impact damage
Temple support provides protection from side impacts
Integrated elastic head strap keeps glasses firmly in place
Soft rubberised parts
Ventilation port reduces steaming up
What about Contact Lenses?
For players aged 13 and over, contact lenses are the only real option. They are a great solution as they avoid the need to worry about impact protection from glasses and also provide a wider, more natural field of vision.
However, below a certain age most Opticians are unwilling to consider contact lenses because the eyes are still developing and many young players may not have the maturity to cope with the insertion, removal and aftercare of lenses. Opticians will therefore generally access the maturity of a potential wearer as well as clinical suitability at this age.
Daily disposable lenses will usually be recommended as they can be worn and then discarded after the match. Potential wearers will need to first have a regular NHS sight test and then an initial fitting appointment, followed by several follow-up visits.
A successful wearer will quite quickly be able to insert their lenses before the match with little or no supervision, although it's wise for clubs to know which of your young players are wearing contact lenses.
Who can wear these?
Current RFU guidelines stipulate that only players in the under 13 grade and below are permitted to wear sports protective eyewear.
They must be assessed by a qualified Dispensing Optician who will make the final decision as to whether the player is suitable.
The RFU have to be notified of all players taking part in the extended trial as well as any occasions where injuries might have occurred as a result of a player wearing goggles.
Funding lenses . . .
The NHS do not generally cover the fees and charges for contact lenses so both the initial fitting appointments and subsequent lens supplies will need to be paid for by a parent of guardian.
The initial fitting fees can range from £40 to around £90, depending on the Optician. Some practices offer introductory offers for new wearers but be aware of free offers as these don't always cover a full range of lens options.
Daily disposable lenses are normally supplied in packs of 30 pairs and start from around £18.
Some Opticians also offer membership programmes with monthly direct debits that cover the cost of lenses and future aftercare visits.
Your next move . . .
If you are a parent or a club who has young players that need to wear glasses, feel free to share this page with others.
If you are based in South West Devon, South East Cornwall or Plymouth then feel free to pop into one of our practices for a chat.
We hope you have found this information useful. We welcome any feedback . . .