Many athletes usually end up with sports-related injuries every year. It is important to note that eye injuries are considered common but can be prevented. With this in mind, eye protection should be taken into consideration for athletes especially those who play high-risk sports.
How eye injuries occur
Most cases of sports-related eye injuries are due to a direct blow to the eye. Blunt trauma injuries include a fractured bone beneath the eyeball, broken eyeball or a detached retina. When it comes to bruised eyes and eyelids, they appear unsightly but are usually less serious than other types of blunt trauma eye injuries.
Blowout fractures occur while playing sports. Even though it sounds like a serious injury, it is simply a fracture of the eye socket and can occur in two ways. A direct strike to the eye can cause internal pressure that cracks the thin wall of the orbit or the bone was hit hard enough to make it buckle and crack. Being hit by a tennis ball, baseball, elbow, fist or knee has enough force to break the bone. In most cases, the object that struck the eye is slightly bigger than the orbital opening. There is a small likelihood that the eyeball is damaged.
Other types of eye injuries are caused by objects that penetrate or slice the eyeball. These are less likely to occur in sports but there are cases they do such as breakage of eye glasses used during practice or when another player accidentally strikes a finger into the eye of another player. In addition, damage by being exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun might not considered as sports injuries but quite common in water skiing, snow skiing and other water sports.
What are the signs and symptoms?
- Eye pain
- Bloodshot eyes
- Loss of vision or double vision
- Unequal pupil size
- Bruising, wounds or bleeding
- Stinging or burning sensation
- Sensation of a foreign object in the eye
Who are at risk?
Basketball and baseball are sports known to cause most cases of eye injuries. These injuries are categorized as very high-risk which includes wrestling, boxing and contact martial arts, high-risk such as basketball, baseball, lacrosse, hockey and tennis and low-risk such as gymnastics, swimming and cycling.
Initial treatment for eye injuries
- When it comes to blunt trauma injuries, you have to apply a cold compress to minimize the swelling and pain. Avoid applying pressure and consult a doctor right away.
- Bring the individual to the nearest emergency department if the individual has eye pain, black eye or difficulty seeing with the damaged eye.
- Instruct the individual not to rub the eye.
- In case of objects on the eyelid or eye, wash hands and check the eye in a well-lighted room. If the object is visible, flush or rinse the eye using water gently.
- If there is an embedded object in the eye, do not attempt to remove it.
- For eye cuts or blows, you can apply a cold compress and seek medical care.