Report Shows Sports Related Injuries are Substantially Higher than Previously Reported

Posted 4/06/18 (Fri)

A study published in JAMA Ophthalmology has found that about 30,000 people in the US go to emergency departments each year with sports-related eye injuries, a substantially higher estimate than previously reported. Three sports accounted for almost half of all injuries: basketball, baseball and air/paintball guns.

Researchers analyzed data on 30 million emergency department visits across the U.S. from 2010 to 2013 to look at the burden of sports-related ocular trauma.

Here are the highlights:

  • 120,847 people presented to emergency departments with ocular trauma, of which 85, 961 had ocular trauma as a primary diagnosis
  • Patients were mostly male (81.3%) and young (mean age, 20 for males and females)
  • Basketball was the leading cause of injury in male patients (25.7%), followed by baseball/softball, and air/paintball guns
  • Baseball or softball was the leading cause among female patients (19.2%) followed by cycling and soccer
  • The most common type of injury was open wound of the adnexa. One-fifth of overall ocular injuries from baseball were blowout fractures
  • Despite accounting for only 9.9% of sports-related eye injuries, paintball and air guns accounted for the highest amount of visual impairment (26.4%)
  • Soccer-related injuries (5.9% of sports-related eye injuries) also contributed a disproportionate share of visual impairment (10.9%)

Mandating the use of protective gear has reduced rates of injury across several sports, and recent research suggests that when appropriate eyewear is available but not mandatory, top-performing athletes frequently choose to wear it.

Reducing sports-related ocular trauma among individuals engaging in these activities, along with individual sports with high levels of injuries, such as cycling, will likely require a coordinated approach from policy makers, industry, and public health professionals.

View Abstract JAMA Ophthalmology, December 2016