There are more than 40,000 eye injuries each year related directly to participation in sports. Sports are broken into several different risk categories covering low risk, high risk, and very high risk.
Low-risk sports are those sports that do not have a bat, ball, racquet, or puck and include little or no bodily contact between participants. Types of low-risk sports include swimming, cycling, track and field, and gymnastics. In these sports the players are less likely to be poked in the eye or hit with a ball, puck, or racquet.
High-risk sports are those that use a bat, puck, or racquet and have a great deal of bodily contact. Basketball and baseball are sports whose players suffer frequent eye injuries. Other sports with a great deal of physical contact include football, hockey, lacrosse, fencing, and water sports such as water polo. It is not uncommon these days to see protective eye gear in baseball and basketball.
Very High-Risk Sports
Very high-risk sports are ones that do not use protective eye wear generally but include forceful physical contact. These sports are wrestling, rugby, boxing, and martial arts. Think about boxing where opponents are often hit in the face. Wrestling, because of movements made between wrestlers, is extremely likely to include moves where someone gets poked in the eye.
Most Common Eye Injuries in Sports
The most common eye injuries in sports are penetrating, radiation injury, and blunt trauma. What is a penetrating injury? This is when a finger pokes the eye or something scratches the eye. This type of injury is common in basketball and football. Radiation injuries are caused by ultraviolet rays. They are most common in water sports, snow skiing, and snowboarding due to improper eye protection.
Blunt Trauma is where something hits you in the eye without penetrating its membrane. During basketball or baseball it is not uncommon to get hit in the eye with the ball, or even get hit with an opponent’s elbow. Blunt Trauma can be an orbital fracture where a broken bone occurs under the eyeball and may result in a detached retina.
How to Protect Your Eyes In Sports
With any sport it is wise to talk with your eye doctor and see what protection they recommend. Certain glasses can help protect your eyes. Also, people who have eye issues may want to rethink the sports they’re playing. Perhaps track and field or swimming might work better for you. You don’t have to opt out of sports entirely, but you want to protect your vision for a lifetime of use! Have you ever had an eye injury from playing sports?
Dr. Travis Zigler