Sports eye injuries are some of the most devastating injuries imaginable, but also some of the most preventable. In the blink of an eye, a ball, or racket, or finger can damage an eye, causing permanent damage. Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure your and your child’s eyes are protected. To learn more, read on for the answers to your most pressing questions about sports eye injuries.
1. What Sports Cause the most Eye Injuries?
As a result of the fast-moving balls, basketball and baseball are the sports that cause the most eye injuries each year. However, eye injuries from water sports and racquet sports like squash are also prevalent. Depending on the frequency and severity of potential eye injuries, sports are categorized into various risk levels.
Low-risk sports do not use balls or racquets and have no body contact. These activities include running, swimming, gymnastics, and cycling. High-risk sports have balls, bats, and body contact and include basketball, baseball, football, lacrosse, hockey, racquet sports, and water polo. While paintball has become an increasingly popular sport, it also causes a significant amount of eye injuries, including blindness.
Sports that are considered very-high-risk have body contact, and participants don’t wear eye protectors. These are sports such as boxing, wrestling, and other martial arts.
2. What are the Best Ways to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries?
When it comes to sports eye injuries, there is no denying that prevention is better than cure. In fact, an estimated 90% of all eye injuries could be prevented. Therefore, you want to ensure that you are doing everything you can to protect your eyes and your children’s eyes while involved in physical activities and sport.
The best way to prevent sports eye injuries is to wear safety glasses when playing sports such as racquetball, squash, tennis, baseball, and basketball. Additionally, in sports such as ice hockey, you want more protection in the form of protective caps, helmets and face protectors.
Other outdoor sports (such as golf and sailing) may not require safety glasses or face protectors; however, sunglasses should be worn to reduce ultraviolet exposure.
3. How should a Sports Eye Injury be Treated?
If you or your child suffers an eye injury while playing sports, it is crucial that you seek professional help immediately. Eyes are some of the most delicate parts of the body, so you don’t want to waste any time when it comes to getting an injury treated. Immediately following an eye injury, first aid is required as immediate and professional treatment will reduce the chance of damage or loss of sight.
No matter how you diagnose the injury, you want to seek medical help so that a professional can take a look and determine the severity of the damage. For this reason, you will want to go to a hospital emergency room where doctors can treat the injury and provide whatever emergency medical care is required.
If necessary, the emergency room personnel will refer the patient to an ophthalmologist if any potential complications are suspected.
Alternatively, if the patient already has an ophthalmologist, then they should be called immediately. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye diseases and disorders and emergency treatments required for eye injuries and potential complications.
4. What should I do if there was a Blow to the Eye?
When it comes to sports eye injuries, the most common one is a blow to the eye due to a ball or other piece of athletic equipment hitting the face. If this happens, you want to use a cold compress on the eye for about 15 minutes to reduce the pain and swelling.
AND be careful to avoid exerting pressure on the eyeball during this time.
Even when using a cold compress, you still want to take the patient to the emergency room or an ophthalmologist. If the patient is suffering from blurred vision or a black eye, this is a potential indication of internal eye damage, making it even more crucial that professional medical help is sought without delay.
5. After a Sports Eye Injury, when can an Athlete Play again?
Getting back on the court, field, or pitch is always at the forefront of an athlete’s mind, but eye injuries must be examined and healed before play commences. For this reason, after an individual has suffered from a sports eye injury, it is crucial that they only return to the game after a doctor or ophthalmologist has confirmed full recovery.
No matter how much you want to play again, the last thing you want to do is return to play with an injured eye as it won’t feel comfortable, you won’t have adequate vision, and there is a high possibility that you may make the eye injury worse.
When you do return, the athlete should always wear eye protectors.
When selecting protective eyewear lenses, make sure you choose ones made of polycarbonate material, as this material is the most impact-resistant (it can endure the force of a .22 caliber bullet). If you are serious about protecting your eyes from sports-related injuries, then you also want to ensure that your polycarbonate sports protection eyewear fits your face correctly. For this reason, have your eyewear fitted by the best ophthalmologist in Dubai (or a dedicated sports eyewear practitioner).
It is important to note that contact lenses and ordinary glasses do not count as protective eyewear, as they provide no protection against sports-related eye injuries.
Luckily, protective eyewear does not impede athletic performance; all it does is protect your eyes and reduce the risk of eye injuries by 90%. Therefore, there is no reason not to wear protective eyewear every time you play a sport. You will thank yourself when you can continue playing safely for the rest of your life.
Have you or your child ever suffered from a sports eye injury? If so, what advice would you give for others who are going through a similar experience? What do you currently do to prevent the chances of a sports eye injury happening? Let us know your thoughts and any additional questions you have in the comments below.
Dr. Millicent M. Grim, Specialist Ophthalmologist & LASIK Specialist, is the Medical Director of Gulf Eye Center in Dubai. Since 2002, Gulf Eye Center’s highly qualified ophthalmologists and optometrists/ODs have been successfully treating a wide range of eye conditions using advanced techniques. They also provide comprehensive eye care and vision restoration procedures for people of all ages.