US Squash is making a renewed push for the use of protective eyewear for all players, reminding participants of the serious dangers of significant injury when not wearing approved eyewear.
The risk of substantial eye injury in racquet sports such as squash is high according to the American Academies of Ophthalmology and Pediatrics, the American Optometric Association, and eye care professionals who have studied sports eye injuries.
Key to proper protection is using equipment tested and approved for squash, meeting the ASTM-F803 standard. Many popular eyewear brands do not meet the standard, including all models of the Rudy Project and Oakley brands among a number of others, and are not permitted for use in accredited (sanctioned) play. To view a complete list to date, click here.
According to former #1 US player Will Carlin, many people don’t take the risks seriously enough, often believing that the need to wear eyewear is only limited to new players.
“If anyone tells you that eye injuries don’t happen to good players they are wrong, ” he says.
Carlin suffered a torn and detached retina when his opponent hit a hard crosscourt from the back of the court, slamming into his eye point blank from close range.
“At that time I was the United States squash champion and number one player. For the first time in fifteen years, I was playing without eyeguards because they were in my other bag and I had forgotten to transfer them.
“It was a random accident. As the ball struck my eye I went down, and when I tried to open my eye I couldn’t. It was swollen past the end of my nose.
“I went to hospital immediately but there was so much blood in the eye that they couldn’t inspect the retina and I had to sleep overnight in a sitting position to let it drain. Two days later it had cleared enough for inspection and the report came – emergency surgery.”
What followed was years of various surgery, exceptional medical costs, and a permanent injury that changed Carlin’s life and cost him his professional squash career.
Carlin had to stop playing for two years, and never again played a PSA event. Understandably he has been a strong advocate for the use of eyewear ever since.
“Do me one favor – let me be the idiot for all of us. Please wear eye protection every time you step on court.”
The US Squash Protective Eyewear Policy states that all players and coaches must wear protective eyewear whether playing singles or doubles, hardball or softball squash during all activities involving racquets and balls that take place on a court at US Squash accredited (sanctioned) events.
Eyewear must meet or exceed the current American Society for Testing and Materials standard (ASTM-F803). Selecting protective eyewear that meets or exceeds the ASTM-F803 standard is the responsibility of individual participants.
“We want all players to realize the seriousness with which we take wearing eye protection on court, ” says Kevin Klipstein, CEO of US Squash.
“This isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Time and time again we hear of horrific injuries occurring due to players not using eyewear.
“We want everyone to enjoy our sport safely, and eyewear plays an important part in ensuring that.”
A list of approved eyewear, which meets or exceeds the current American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM-F803) standard is available on the US Squash website, as well as the full US Squash policy relating to the use of eyewear.
In addition, an FAQ part of the new ‘Protective Eyewear’ section of the website details information on how people who wear regular glasses are able to secure adequate eye protection.