Eye Injuries and Loss of Sight
Many of the causes of loss of vision are a much greater risk to older people but in the case of sports injuries that result in loss of vision the risk is predominately in younger people. Dr. Pashby, chair of the Technical Committee on Protective Equipment for Ice Hockey Players and Racquet Sports Eye Protectors tells of his personal reaction as a medical student when George Parsons of the Toronto Maple leafs was struck in the eye with a hockey stick in 1939 and had to have his eye removed. Again in 1952 he drove Herb Dickenson of the New York Rangers to the hospital after he was hit in the eye with a puck. The injuries cost both players their eyesight and their career. Since that time he has helped design and put in place regulations for protective equipment.
It is sad when older people lose the use of their eyes toward the end of their life but a real tragedy when a young person loses their vision early in life when it would have been possible to avoid it with the proper use of protective eyewear. It may seem brave to live dangerously but if a tragedy takes place and permanent loss of sight takes place there is a deep regret and now it is easier to see that neglect of safety is really foolhardy.
Protective Eyewear for Athletes:
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology have teamed up to make recommendations regarding the use of protective eyewear. They recommend mandatory eye protection for all functionally one-eyed individuals and for athletes who have had eye surgery, trauma or injury.5 there is a possibility that those who have had eye surgery or trauma to the eye may have weakened eye tissue that is more susceptible to injury. It recommended that everyone use appropriate protection when involved in sports and recreational activities.
A joint statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology included some recommendations to avoid eye injuries.What often happens when struck in the eye:
- Recession of the angle
- Lens and iris forced backward - tears away from ciliary muscle
- Hemorrhage - often glaucoma in 6 months
- Giant retinal tears - retinal detachment and often go blind
Eye Safety at Work:
For older youth and adults the work place may hold hazards for eye health. It is still vivid in my memory how another farm worker and I climbed under a combine to get ready for harvest. He was hammering on a piece of metal when something flew in his eye. We climbed out and found what appeared to be a scratch on his eye. In spite of advise to go and get medical attention he insisted on shrugging it off. After a few days complications brought him in to see a doctor and in a short time it was discoverer that he had a serious infection. In order to decrease the risk of losing the other eye his injured eye had to be removed.
Every day thousands of workers injure their eyes at work. It is reported that every day in the U.S. the eyes of 70,000 workers are injured in work related accidents. Sixty percent were not wearing protective eyewear or were wearing an incorrect device. Of those who were wearing a device, most were not wearing a device approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) code.
It is estimated that 90% of these injuries are also avoidable by the proper use of protection. When ever a worker is involved in a situation which a reasonable probability exist that eye protection could prevent injury it should be used whether in the work place or at home. In order to make the use of protective devices routine they should be readily available and workers should be instructed to use them.