How to

Eye protection – Hook, line & sinker

YOU would not be visiting this website if you didn’t love to fish. More people participate in fishing than almost any other sport worldwide. Like other sportspeople, individuals who fish may be at risk of specific injuries while pursuing their pastime.

Eye injuries sustained while fishing are quite common and the types of eye injuries that occur can be devastating. Wearing proper eye protection from an early age can protect the eyes without impacting your enjoyment of the sport.

Fishing eye injuries

Sinkers and fishing hooks present a serious eye hazard. Hooks are able to penetrate the eyelids and eyes (see image below – *warning not for the squeamish).

If a hook becomes embedded anywhere near or in the eye, it is important you seek medical before removing it. The sharp barbs have the potential to cause additional damage to your eyes if the hook isn’t removed properly. Sinkers are dangerous because of their size and weight and the potential for recoil if they release suddenly after being trapped. There are reports of sinkers recoiling and penetrating the eye and the brain. Be cautious when casting and unhooking your line, due to the speed and energy of combined hook and sinker. Fishing rods, with their pointy flexible ends, can also cause damage to eyes.

Choosing your eye protection

Eye protection is key both for the person fishing and for observers, especially young children. Eye protection should also include adequate protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunglasses meeting category 3 of the Australian Standard (AS1067) are recommended, offering good protection from the glare and UV. Wrap-around sunglasses and a wide brim hat help to make sure that you are stopping as much UV light from reaching your eyes as possible. Polarised lenses are a great option for fishing, cutting the glare and helping you to see beyond the water’s surface.

Polycarbonate or Trivex lenses provide the best protection from hooks and sinkers travelling at speed. You shouldn’t rely on your regular spectacles for impact protection, and they can in fact be an extra hazard to your eyes if they shatter. Thermoplastic frame materials mould to your face, enhancing comfort. Rubber frame components can help your frame stay firmly in place. Floating frames can help safeguard your valuable investment.

Lens coatings reduce fogging and optimise vision in humid environments. Hydrophilic coatings are also great in wet environments, repelling water and salt from the lens. Frame and lens options are many and varied. Any time you purchase sunglasses or spectacles, bring a list of questions and ensure the best protection for your eyes!

The Lions Eye Institute in Perth Western Australia has a major research program underway to understand and prevent eye injuries in children and adults.

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Never remove a fishing hook from an eye yourself – always see an ophthalmologist for removal to avoid further damaging the eye. Image courtesy: Chris Barry, Lions Eye Institute

Annette Clayfield Hoskin – Honorary Research Fellow, Lions Eye Institute, University of Western Australia: Annette is an Optometrist currently working as a research fellow investigating causes of eye injuries and eye injury prevention strategies. She is on the Australian Standards committee member for eye protection and spectacles.


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