of sports-related eye injuries in the United States

Haring RS, Sheffield ID,
JK, and Schneider EB. JAMA
. 2016. 134 (12).

Home Message: Sport-related ocular injuries are most commonly open wounds to
the eye or surrounding visual structures. Advocating for, or implementing rule
changes to require protective eyewear could greatly mitigate this risk.

Ocular injuries can have long-term impact on an athlete’s
ability to see and overall quality of life. By understanding the cause and
prevalence of ocular injuries, clinicians can develop equipment and operating
procedures to lessen the risk of injury. Therefore, Haring and colleagues
completed a retrospective study to assess the incidence of ocular injuries in
the United States as a result of participation in sports and identify any
associated risk factors.
 Researchers used data from the Nationwide
Emergency Department Sample database to identify patients who experienced
ocular trauma and were seen in an emergency department between January 1, 2010
and December 31, 2013. Overall 85,961 patients were primarily seen for ocular
trauma due to sports-related activity. These patients represented 3.3% of all ocular
trauma cases seen in emergency rooms. The leading cause of ocular trauma among
male and female patients were basketball and baseball/softball
respectively. The most common injuries were open wounds to the accessory
visual structures (34%) and contusions of the eye or accessory visual
structures (30%).

Overall, the data presented in the current study suggests
that ocular injury due to physical activity is a small portion of all ocular
injuries seen in emergency rooms. While the proportion of ocular injuries due
to sport is small, the long-term impact of ocular injuries on athlete can be
great and should not be overlooked. Further, the injuries most commonly
reported can be easily prevented by protective eyewear. Firstly, clinician who
work with athletes who participate in high risk sports such as basketball,
baseball or softball should strongly encourage athletes to use appropriate
protective eyewear to mitigate the risk of ocular injury. Healthcare
professionals may also consider efforts to promote rule changes that would
require athletes in high-risk sports to wear appropriate protective eyewear.
Until rule changes can be implemented, clinicians should continue to educate their
patients about the risks and long-term effects of ocular injuries and strongly
encourage the use of protective eyewear. 

Questions for Discussion: How do you educate athletes
about ocular injuries? What impediments do you think exist with regards to
implementing rule changes which would require protective eyewear? Would your
basketball or baseball/softball players wear protective eye equipment?

Written by: Kyle Harris
Reviewed by:  Jeffrey Driban

Related Posts:

Haring RS, Sheffield ID, Canner JK, & Schneider EB (2016). Epidemiology of Sports-Related Eye Injuries in the United States. JAMA ophthalmology, 134 (12), 1382-1390 PMID: 27812702