Tips in Avoiding Eye Injuries While Playing Sports
Every year, 100,000 doctor visits are due to sports-related eye injuries, as reported by the National Eye Institute (NEI). While this number is already shocking, it is estimated that around 43 percent of this statistic is tied to injuries for children below 14 years old. If you are a parent, this can be quite concerning as eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children.
Even for those who love playing sports, any eye injury poses huge problems. Eye injuries can lead to partial or even complete blindness. Fortunately, 90% of sports-related eye injuries can be prevented with the right protective eye wear.
Types of Eye Injuries
There are three main types of eye injuries that are common in sports:
- Blunt trauma injuries – These are caused by blunt objects – a ball, bat, or even an elbow or knee – hitting your eye or the area around it. While the injury is often superficial, severe cases can cause a fracture in the bone under the eyeballs, rupturing it (globe rupture) or detaching the retina – the part of the eye that is sensitive to light.
- Penetrating injuries – These happen when you receive a cut to your eye or something sharp punctures your eye, which can cause globe rupture if severe enough. Eyeglasses can shatter and its pieces can then injure your eye. Pieces of paintball have been known to cause penetrating eye injury. In contact sports, an errant finger (specifically the nails) can cause cuts on the eye.
- Radiation injuries – Outdoor sports can cause radiation injuries as the players are exposed to excessive sunlight. Cyclists and those who engage in snow and water sports run the risk of suffering from radiation injuries.
Risk of Eye Injury in Sports
Not all sports pose the same risk of eye injury – sports that require equipment or where fast moving balls or pucks may hit a player have greater risk. Swimming, for example, has low risk. Baseball on the other hand is the leading cause of eye injury in children under 14. The NEI have classified some common sports for the public’s guidance.
- Low risk sports: bicycling, diving, skiing, swimming, wrestling.
- Moderate risk sports: football, golf, badminton, soccer, tennis, fishing
- High risk: baseball, basketball, boxing, hockey, paintball, racquetball, softball, squash.
Tips in Avoiding Eye Injury
Actually, there’s only one tip: wear protective eyewear. As previously stated, 90% of sports related eye injuries can be prevented by wearing protective eyewear. The unfortunate truth, however, is that only 15% of children and 33% of adults report that they consistently wear eye protection when playing sports.
Glasses, contact lenses, and sunglasses cannot protect you from blunt trauma or penetrating sports-related injuries. A visit to your friendly eye-care specialist can quickly equip you with the knowledge on which type of eye protection you can use for your sport of choice. These can be goggles, safety glasses, or eye guards. Some protective eyewear can be worn over your prescription glasses or contacts. A common advice is that the eyewear should be made of polycarbonate – it’s light, comes in prescription or basic, and is 10 times more impact-resistant than other plastics.
In the Event of Eye Injury
While preventing eye injury is preferred, in case of an injury, do not treat yourself or try to remove objects from your eyes. Do not rub at your eye as it can make the injury worse.
Immediately seek medical help if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Intense pain
- Loss of vision
- Blood in the eye
- Pus or fluid coming from the eye
- Any cut on the eye or surrounding area – a cut on your eye feels like you have something stuck on it and you can’t blink or wash it away
- Any object in your eye
- Eye is swollen shut
If you are in the Lake Worth area, Dr. Hetel Bhakta of Planet Vision EyeCare is available for emergency consultations after-hours. Call (561) 444-8979 and we’ll be more than happy to see to any eye-related injury you might be experiencing.