Every year in the United States, about 30,000 sports-related eye injuries are treated in the Emergency Department.
Most common causes of sports-related eye injuries are:
- Airsoft rifles
- Pellet guns
Types of sports-related eye injury that can be prevented are:
- Corneal abrasion – a superficial scratch on the clear protective window of the eye
- Traumatic iritis – inflammation of the iris (colored part)
- Hyphema – the presence of blood within the aqueous fluid of the anterior chamber
- Traumatic cataract – clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye
- Detached retina – critical layer of tissue at the back eye pulls away from the layer of blood vessels that provides is with oxygen and nutrients
- Fracture of the eye socket – one of more of the bones surrounding the eye, are broken
How to protect yourself from a sports-related eye injury
About 9 out of 10 serious eye injuries can be prevented by wearing protective eyewear.
Athletes should wear face guards, visors, and other sports eye protection during play depending on the particular sport:
- Wear protective sports glasses with polycarbonate lenses, a shatterproof plastic, for sports such as basketball, racquet sports, soccer, and field hockey. Choose eye protectors that have been tested to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials standards or that pass the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) racquet sports standard.
- Wear a helmet with a polycarbonate face mask or wire shield in ice hockey and men’s lacrosse. Choose hockey face masks approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council or the CSA.
- Wear protective glasses or goggles with ultra-violet protection when snow or water skiing to protect your eyes from sunburn and glare.
- Do not wear prescription glasses as protective eyewear or underneath protective goggles. Sunglasses and occupational safety glasses also do not provide appropriate protection.
Spectators should also be careful at sporting events and watch out for balls, bats, and other flying objects.
What to do if you get a sports-related eye injury?
Even if the injury seems minor, seek care with an eye doctor immediately or go to the Emergency Department to prevent delays in medical attention which could result in permanent vision loss or blindness.
Blog submitted by:
Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Residency Program Director, Director of the Eye Trauma Center
Wilmer Eye Institute (Johns Hopkins Medicine)
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine