When children and young people have monocular vision, it’s even more important to preserve their eyesight. But that doesn’t mean that they have to miss out on all the fun of sports and activities. Zishan Naeem, Lead Orthoptist for Retinoblastoma Services at The Royal London Hospital, gives some tips on eye safety and using protective eyewear…

Monocular vision relates to having useful vision from one eye only – this could be the case for children who have both eyes (where one eye has poor vision and the other eye has good useful vision) or children who have one eye only (and have lost their other eye).  In such children it is vital to preserve their vision, and for this reason it is important to consider the use of protective eyewear such as protective glasses/sports goggles.

Most children’s activities, as enjoyable as they may be, carry a significant amount of risk and children may sustain injuries, some of which are easily preventable.  Since your child has monocular vision, it is important to try and prevent any injuries to your child’s seeing eye.  It is vital to teach eye safety to your child, just as you would teach general safety with day-to-day activities.

It is important that you are very positive when teaching eye safety to your child so that they do not feel that they are being isolated.  It is a given that your child’s monocular vision (and need for protective eyewear) makes them different to other children, but it should be highlighted to your child that it is this difference which makes them special and everyone is special in their own way.

It is strongly advised that your child should wear sports goggles as a means of protective wear when participating in any kinds of activities.  This is especially the case when it is felt that there may be some form of hazard to your child’s eyes – in particular outdoor activities in which a stone or some debris could enter the seeing eye.

Before introducing your child to any kind of activity it is important that you and your child are aware of the risks of injuries during play.   Your child may well get some bruises and or cuts during rough play, but the most important thing for them to remember is to protect their only seeing eye as much as possible.

For all kinds of sports (In particular ball-games and contact sports (such as football, netball or rugby) then sports goggles are a must.  We advise your child to avoid excessive contact-sports in order to minimise the risk of injury to your child’s seeing eye.

Obtaining protective eyewear

Your child should attend a local optician to obtain protective eye wear.   If a prescription has been found, then you will be issued with a pair of prescripted glasses – it is important to note that the lenses must be POLYCARBONATE lenses, which is a stronger material used for the lenses and will add to the protection of your child’s seeing eye. These can be worn with a sports band.  Stronger, durable frames must be chosen, and these can be recommended by the dispensing assistant at the opticians.

Contact lenses will not protect the eyes, therefore it is strongly recommended for contact lens wearers to also wear appropriate eye protection.

If your child does not have a prescription, then sports goggles should be purchased with POLYCARBONATE lenses.  We would advise that these are purchased for all children with monocular vision who participate in sporting activities.  These can be purchased from their local optician, or from the internet.

If there are any concerns or queries about this, then please do not hesitate to contact the Rb team.

For more information on taking part in sports and activities, have a look at our at school or nursery section. You may also find our leaflet on monocular vision useful.