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Preventing Sports-Related Eye Injuries

Preventing Sports-Related Eye Injuries

On February 18, 2009, the point guard for the Phoenix Suns, Amar′e Stoudemire, was poked in the eye by LA Clippers’ forward Al Thornton. The result? A detached retina. And that followed a torn iris he sustained from a poke in the eye in training camp!

Every year around 30,000 sports-related eye injuries lead to ER visits; untold more send athletes to local clinics, urgent care centers or doctors’ offices. And kids and teens are most vulnerable: 60 percent of guys with sports-related eye injuries and 67 percent of gals are 18 or younger.

According to a study in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, for young males, 23 percent of eye injuries come from basketball, 14 percent from baseball or softball and 11 percent from air guns (paintball was considered a sport). For young females, injuries came from baseball or softball 19 percent of the time, cycling 11 percent, and soccer 10 percent.

So, how to avoid such injuries? Simple: wear protective goggles or wrap-around glasses. Dr. Mike’s been instrumental in advancing this field. As chair of the medical advisory committee of The United States Squash Racquets Association (USSRA), and past captain of the U.S. Squash team in the Pan American games, he showed the USSRA Board the goriest eye injury pics until they mandated protective goggles for all squash matches.

So, if you get push back from your kids, just mention these greats who wore goggles full-time after they were injured: the NBAs Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and Horace Grant.

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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