In an effort to lower and reduce the risk of eye injury in high school girls lacrosse, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Board of Directors voted at its meeting last month to make it compulsory to use of eye-protection devices in high school girls lacrosse, effective from the 2004 season.

US Lacrosse, which writes playing rules for girls lacrosse at all levels, including high school, recently changed its rules and endorsed the use of protective eyewear for 2004 and mandated the use of these protective devices beginning with the 2005 season.

The NCAA will begin requiring use of protective eyewear at its spring 2004 championships, with full-season implementation in 2005.

Protective eyewear used in high school girls lacrosse has to meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) test. Jerry Diehl, assistant directory of the NFHS and liaison officer to the Girls Lacrosse Rules Committee and the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, said that approximately 5 manufacturers of ASTM-approved eye-protection devises will have sufficient numbers by the time the spring 2004 high school season starts.

The National Federation Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and the NFHS Girls Lacrosse Rules Committee have both taken the position that eye-protection devices must be implemented as soon as possible. In October 2000, the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommended that eye-protection devices be made compulsory “as soon as practicable based on scientific data as appropriate equipment becomes available”.

The following manufacturers have eye-protective devices for girls lacrosse that have been tested and meet current ASTM eyewear standards: Cascade, Liberty Optical/Rec Specs USA, Halo/Bangerz, Leader Sport USA and Shamrock Lacrosse.

The NFHS Board of Directors also voted to require eye protectors one year earlier than required by US Lacrosse based mostly on current trends of states that offer girls lacrosse. Massachusetts and New York already require eye protection, and New Jersey was expected to mandate use of eye protectors in 2004. These 3 states comprise about sixty percent of the schools and sixty-five percent of the players involved in high school girls lacrosse.

“With more than 1/2 of our schools and participants already requiring use of eye protectors for the 2004 season, and with sufficient quantities of ASTM-approved protectors expected to be on the market before next season, the Board of Directors, from a risk-management standpoint, believed it was best to mandate the use of eye protectors immediately rather than wait until the 2005 season,” Diehl said.

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