Objective: To outline the severity and long-term sequelae of eye injuries in soccer.
Design: Prospective observational study of 163 patients who sustained soccer-related ocular injuries between April 1, 1992, and March 31, 2000 (8 years).
Methods: Patients were observed at a sports ophthalmology unit located in the largest university hospital of the northern region of the country and central to all major soccer fields in town. The data were recorded using the United States Eye Injury Registry report forms for initial and follow-up observation.
Main outcome measures: (1) Self-reported history surrounding the ocular trauma, initial visual acuity, diagnosis, and operations and (2) final visual acuity, late diagnosis, and additional operations.
Results: Injuries occurred predominantly in young men (mean +/- SD age, 23.2 +/- 8.8 years) practicing indoor soccer (50.9%) or outdoor soccer (47.2%), and most resulted from a kicked ball (79.1%) near the goal post (60.1%). Angle recession and peripheral vitreoretinal lesions were more likely to occur in the superotemporal quadrant (54.7%; 95% confidence interval, 44.2%-65.0%; and 57.6%; 95% confidence interval, 48.4%-66.4%; respectively). Vitreoretinal lesions were present in 42.2% (95% confidence interval, 33.1%-51.8%) of patients with "normal" visual acuity (> or =20/40) and in 50.0% (95% confidence interval, 38.1%-61.8%) of patients without hyphema. No significant association was found between severity of injury and age, sex, type of soccer, level of athletic expertise, or player position.
Conclusions: Severe ocular lesions can occur in soccer players without symptoms and at all skill levels. The development of laboratory models will be essential to explain the tendency for lesions to be in the superotemporal quadrant. The data support the need for protective eyewear designed specifically for soccer.