Every 13 minutes, an emergency department in the United States treats a child with a sports-related eye injury. Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children and according to the National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute (NEI), sports-related injuries are the leading cause.
Sports-related eye injuries account for more than 100,000 physician visits a year and about 90 percent of these injuries could be prevented with protective eyewear.
“Protective eyewear is not required in most sports, and kids think you can’t see with goggles or some kids may feel like they look stupid, but it’s the only chance they have to protect his or her eyes,” Children’s National Health System sports pediatrician Nailah Coleman, MD
Dr. Coleman said the most prominent eye injuries are:
- Eyelid lacerations
- Corneal abrasions
- Foreign bodies in the eye
- Broken blood vessels
“We see the highest number of eye injuries
for children ages 15 and under in baseball,” Dr. Coleman said. “For adolescents and young adults, it’s basketball. Children get hit in the eye with the ball, a finger, or even an elbow.” According to the NEI, other sports with the highest risk of eye injury are boxing, hockey, paintball, racquetball, softball, and squash.
Eye protection is the best way to prevent injury, some other tips that Dr. Coleman shared are:
- Wear eye protection or goggles while playing any sport (prescription glasses are not enough to protect the eye)
- Definitely wear eye protection, if you have an eye problem
- Decrease the hardness of the ball (for example, in baseball)
- Coaches and parents should make sure that players are following the rules of the game
Dr. Coleman said that it’s very important that parents educate themselves in the rules of the game – and knowing rules for that particular age group, so their children are protected. If your child sustains an eye injury, make sure not put any pressure on the wound and seek medical attention immediately.