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Preventing Eye Injuries in Sports

December 5, 2008

Since OCLI is a corporate sponsor for the Princeton Sports Symposium today, and hosting the Chatham Club’s OCLI Squash Tournament this weekend, we thought this would be an apropos post…

Eye injuries from sports are almost always preventable. Anyone playing ball sports such as tennis, squash, or baseball without eye protection, is risking serious eye injury from a ball or racquet which can travel at speeds up to 145 miles an hour. The speed of the objects involved exceed reflex time, so there is rarely a chance to move out of the way. The frequency of eye injuries in sports is not related to your level of experience, it can happen as easily to the expert or novice.

The most common eye injuries associated with sports include: corneal abrasions, traumatic hyphema (bleeding inside the eye), cuts or ruptures of the eyeball, retinal tears or detachments, retinal scars, optic nerve injuries, and facial fractures.

Any of the above injuries can be easily prevented by following one simple procedure: always wear eye protection when playing a ball or racquet sport. Ordinary eyeglasses offer little protection, but certainly not enough. The best choice for adequate eye protection is sports glasses made of polycarbonate, the same material used to make bullet-proof glass. These glasses are available both with and without prescription lenses, and should be worn by everyone.

If your child is starting to play a racquet of ball sport, insist on eye protection from the first time on the court. Children who play baseball should also wear a helmet with a face protector. Teach them that it’s smart and not “chicken” to protect their eyes.

If an eye injury does occur, several steps should be taken. Avoid pressure to the injured eye. Wait a few minutes for the pain to subside before trying to look at it. If there is bleeding or any foreign objects in the eye, do not try to manipulate the eye. Never try to rinse any seriously injured eye. When in doubt, apply an eye shield (you can use the bottom of a Styrofoam cup), without any pressure on the eye, and see your ophthalmologist or local emergency room immediately.

In closing, eye injuries associated with sports can be serious and sometimes vision threatening. The best cure is prevention, always wear safety glasses, and enjoy yourself!

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