Sports Eye Injuries – Get Help Right Away
Emergency departments in the U.S. treat almost 30,000 sports-related eye injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Some injuries may seem minor early on but are serious. The academy states that someone injured should head to the emergency room immediately, and provides a story on its website, illustrating the point.
A 15-year-old high school athlete was in a basketball tournament when she was going for a shot and got poked in the eye. She fell to the court in pain. She was initially treated with drops to prevent infection, and directed to contact her pediatrician for a referral to an ophthalmologist. A few days later, however, the girl began to see flashing red lights. An ophthalmologist diagnosed her with a detached retina. “A detached retina occurs when the retina, the light sensitive tissue, separates from the back of the eye.”(1) After the detachment, retina cells begin to die, which can lead to blindness.
In this case, the ophthalmologist told the girl and her mother she would require surgery immediately. “He would need to place a scleral buckle, which is a flexible band, around her eye to counteract the force pulling the retina out of place. He would then drain the fluid under the detached retina, allowing the retina to settle back into its normal position against the back wall of the eye.” After four months, the student athlete was back on the court, with eye protection, but vision intact.(1)
The National Eye Institute reports that while there are many causes of retinal detachment, the most common causes are aging or eye injury. The institute continues:
- Retinal detachment can happen to anyone
- If you have an eye injury or trauma (like something hitting your eye), it is important to see an eye doctor to check for early signs of retinal detachment
- Seeing a few floaters (small dark spots or squiggly lines) in your vision is normal – but if you suddenly see a lot more floaters than usual, it is important to get your eyes checked right away (2)
For more information on sports eye injuries, and prevention tips, visit https://www.aao.org
(1) Medeivos, S., Shelton, B., American Academy of Ophthalmology, Sight-Threatening Injury Turns Teenager into Sports Eye Safety Advocate, https://www.aao.org
(2) National Eye Institute, Retinal Detachment, https://www.nei.nih.gov