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Eye Injuries Are Common in Youth Sports

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Obviously there are benefits to kids playing sports. And most parents are well aware that with sports comes some possibility of injury. But it can be jarring to learn about new injury concerns, like concussions and severe abdominal injuries, or to hear some injuries are far more common than you thought.

For example, before a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology, you may not have guessed how many eye injuries occurred during youth sports, or which sport is responsible for the most eye injuries. Here's a look:

Eye Injury Prevalence

As reported by the New York Times, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Harvard analyzed three years' worth of emergency room visits to see what they could learn about eye injuries, breaking data out by the age of the victim and the severity of their injury. In all, the study found 30,000 sports-related eye injuries were treated each year at the 5,000 participating emergency rooms, with a large majority of those injuries involving children under 18 years old.

Researchers were also able to reference a new coding system that designated how injuries occur, specifically, what sport or physical activity the person had been playing when he or she was hurt, from soccer to cycling to shooting. The sport most likely to result in eye injuries? Basketball, followed closely by baseball and softball. After that, boys were most likely to sustain eye injuries from air guns, while girls' biggest dangers were soccer and cycling.

Eye Injury Prevention

Fortunately, most of the injuries listed were non-serious, although Dr. R. Sterling Haring, who led the study, pointed out that researchers only looked at emergency room visits, not statistics from general practitioners, urgent care facilities, or eye doctors, which could've increased the number of injuries.

Do how to reduce these injuries? "If you're dealing with projectiles or fast-moving objects," Dr. Haring told the Times, "protective eyewear is definitely worthwhile." This is easier said than done, however, given the stigma of goggle-wearing athletes. "But knowing what we know now about how many eye injuries occur during sports, especially youth sports," Dr. Haring added, "let's try for a cultural shift and convince the kids they look really good wearing those glasses." When it comes to children's health and safety, perhaps fashion can wait.

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