Eye injuries in the National Hockey League from 2010 to 2018: an analysis of injury rates, mechanisms, and the National Hockey League visor policy

Can J Ophthalmol. 2021 Feb;56(1):17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjo.2020.08.003. Epub 2020 Sep 10.


Objective: We aim to assess the efficacy of widespread visor adoption by assessing eye injury rates during the 2010-2018 seasons. We also compare injury rates, missed games, and financial losses to previously reported data in order to track progress over time. Lastly, we characterize the mechanism and type of eye injuries sustained by National Hockey League (NHL) players to examine risk areas within NHL games.

Design: We performed a retrospective review of NHL player injuries using official NHL team reports, ProSportsTransactions, and TSN Sports.

Participants: All NHL players who suffered an eye injury from 2010 to 2018 were included; 31 injuries matched this criterion.

Methods: Trends in injuries, missed games, and financial losses over time were analyzed using Pearson's correlation coefficients. Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests were performed to compare our data with eye injury data. Fisher's exact test was performed to assess significance between mechanism and type of eye injury and outcome.

Results: There were 31 total eye injuries causing 233 missed games and a total of US$8 951 000 in financial losses across the 2010-2018 seasons. There was a strong decrease in the number of eye injuries (r = -0.83, p = 0.01) and a moderate decrease in number of missed games (r = -0.62, p = 0.09). Injuries due to direct puck strikes contributed to over US$6.5 million in financial losses and led to significantly more missed games compared with stick injuries (14.6 vs 4.3).

Conclusion: We tangibly demonstrate the financial and physical effects of recent safety interventions and indicate areas for improved safety in the NHL.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Eye Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Hockey*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Policy
  • Retrospective Studies