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Kids Experience the Most Sports-Related Eye Injuries in the U.S.

December 13, 2016
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Emergency departments at hospitals are nothing if not accustomed to seeing adolescents arrive with various sports injuries. Broken bones, sprained ankles, and torn ACLs are common occurrences along with ocular trauma, or as they are more commonly referred to: eye injuries. Ocular trauma occurs when there is any type of harm done to the eye or the eye’s surrounding tissue. This can range from bruising in the form of a common black eye to more severe cases such as the bones near the eye becoming fractured. While not every ocular trauma leads to vision impairment for the rest of the patient’s life, there are some that can. However, any sort of visual impairment has the potential to affect a person’s ability to drive, get a job, and learn—affecting almost all aspects of common life. According to a study performed by Dr. R. Sterling Haring, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, there are some sports that are bigger culprits in causing ocular trauma than others. They examined the types of visits that emergency rooms in 900 different hospitals around the United States received. They found that around 30,000 patients each year arrive at emergency rooms with eye injuries caused by sports—that’s 70% of all sport-injured arrivals. This number does not take into account those patients who visit local urgent care centers or ophthalmologists for their eye injuries, if so, Haring said, the number would be much larger. The sports which produced the largest amount of ocular trauma in patients under 18 years of age were: for males, basketball (26%), baseball (13%) and air guns (13%), and for females, softball (19%), cycling (11%), and soccer (10%). The steps that need to be taken to prevent these injuries may require different rules or regulations to make protective eyewear mandatory in certain sports. Hockey used to be one of the leading causes of countless serious ocular trauma cases in children before new rules requiring protective eyewear were enforced. However, this may not work for every sport and in some cases, eyewear or goggles could cause bruising to the face of the wearer themselves. Therefore, an analysis of what would work best for each sport is needed in order to come up with tailored recommendations.
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