Every 13 minutes, an emergency department in the United States treats a child with a sports-related eye injury. Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children and according to the National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute (NEI), and sports-related injuries are the leading cause of these eye injuries.

Sports-related eye injuries account for more than 100,000 physician visits a year and about 90 percent of these injuries could be prevented with protective eyewear.

Common eye injuries

The highest number of eye injuries for children ages 14 and under occur in baseball. For adolescents and young adults, it’s basketball. Other sports with a high risk of eye injury are boxing, hockey, paintball, racquetball, softball and squash.

The most common types of injuries include:

  • Eyelid lacerations
  • Corneal abrasions
  • Foreign bodies in the eye
  • Broken blood vessels

Preventing eye injury

  • Wear eye protection or goggles while playing any sport (prescription glasses are not enough to protect the eye).
  • Definitely wear eye protection, if you have an eye problem.
  • Decrease the hardness of the ball (for example, in baseball).
  • Coaches and parents should make sure that players are following the rules of the game.

It’s very important that parents educate themselves in the rules of the game – and know rules for that particular age group, so their children are protected. If your child sustains an eye injury, make sure not put any pressure on the wound and seek medical attention immediately.


Nailah Coleman Nailah Coleman, MD, FAAP, is a sports medicine pediatrician in the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. She is board certified in both pediatrics and sports medicine. During her training, she worked in four different hospital environments and had the opportunity to see children at different life stages and assess their growth and wellness.

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