Eye injuries in sports are common and can lead to vision loss or even blindness

TORONTO, April 5, 2022 /CNW/ – With the NHL hockey playoff season underway, April also marks Sports Eye Safety Month, and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society is reminding all athletes and sports enthusiasts to protect their vision and help avoid any serious eye injuries that could affect their season. Despite eye injuries being common – causing anything from minor corneal scratches to blunt injuries or, in extreme cases, blindness – 38 per cent of Canadians said they rarely, or never, wear protective eyewear when participating in outdoor sports, according to a 2021 survey conducted by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society.

“Over the years, I’ve seen a fair number of sports-related eye injuries from lack of protective eyewear, especially in hockey due to direct puck strikes,” says Dr. Bryce Ford, an ophthalmologist for the Calgary Flames and a Clinical Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Calgary. “Accidents in sports are common, so wearing protective eyewear can help reduce injuries such as eyelid lacerations, corneal abrasions or more severe injuries such as retinal detachments which can cause complete vision loss.”

While sports injuries are common, certain sporting organizations and leagues are making strides in ensuring the safety of players. For instance, in 2013, the NHL enacted a rule that said unless a player had already played 25 games in the NHL without one, wearing a visor is mandatory. The Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology (CJO) published research in September 2020 on the effectiveness of widespread visor adoption by assessing eye injury rates during the 2010–2018 seasons. The research showed a strong decrease in the number of eye injuries and a moderate decrease in the number of missed games once the visor rule was in effect.

“The research highlights the success of visors and proves that eye protection actually works,” adds Dr. Ford. “Working with the Calgary Flames over the years, I’ve noticed a decrease in the number of eye injuries that require my assistance; that’s very positive. These days, I see more eye injuries from visorless recreational hockey players, racquet sports, and other sports such as paintball.”

Most sports-related eye injuries occur in basketball, baseball and racquet sports – but anything with a high-velocity projectile can be dangerous. Even if you think an injury is minor or are unsure you have an eye injury, it’s best to get checked out by your eye doctor. The Canadian Ophthalmological Society has outlined some of the tests an eye doctor may use to make a diagnosis of an eye injury:

  • Visual acuity test: This test helps your eye doctor see if you’ve had any changes in your vision. You’ll be asked to look at an eye chart with different sizes of letters on it.
  • Slit-lamp examination: This exam allows your eye doctor to view different parts of your eye up close to see if there are any problems. This device is called a “slit lamp” because it uses a bright line of light to illuminate the different parts of your eye.
  • Retinal exam: Your doctor will perform a retinal exam to look for damage in the back part of the eye. Eye drops will be placed into the eyes to widen the pupils. Your doctor will then use a device called an ophthalmoscope to get a good look at your retina.
  • Fluorescein eye stain test: This test is used to see if you have any scratches on your cornea. Your eye doctor will put drops of a dark orange dye called fluorescein in your affected eye. They will then shine a special blue light into your eye. Any areas that are damaged will appear green.
  • X-ray: In some cases, your doctor may order an X-ray or CT scan. This will help them see if you have a fracture in your eye bone, or if there are any foreign objects inside your eye.
  • Ultrasound: If your eye doctor cannot see into the back of the eye, they may also order an ultrasound. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create a picture of structures in the back of the eye.

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society urges everyone participating in sports to wear protective eyewear appropriate for the sport or activity. Parents can also teach their children early on to help get them in the habit of wearing protective eyewear to avoid an injury or damage to their eyesight. For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of eye injuries, visit seethepossibilities.ca.

About Canadian Ophthalmological Society
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. The COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). For more information, visit cos-sco.ca.

SOURCE Canadian Ophthalmological Society

For further information: Bojana Duric, bduric@blueskycommunications.com, 289.981.7710, BlueSky Communications