A 5-Year Retrospective Assessment of Clinical Presentation Associated With Sports Injury in Young People Presenting to a Tertiary Eye Center

J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus. 2021 Nov-Dec;58(6):377-384. doi: 10.3928/01913913-20210423-02. Epub 2021 Nov 1.


Purpose: To examine the incidence and initial presentation of sports-related ocular injury in youth.

Methods: This retrospective case series study was performed at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Boston, Massachusetts. Inclusion criteria were visit dates between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2015, age 5 to 25 years, an ocular injury International Classifcation of Disease code, and a sports-related mechanism of injury.

Results: The final sample was 223 patients, representing approximately 20% of all youth eye injuries (mean age: 16.2 years (range: 6 to 24 years); 78.9% boys, 21.2% girls). The most common diagnosis was hyphema (72.2%). Most injuries occurred with soccer (23.3%), baseball (17.0%), and basketball (11.7%), with a mean visual acuity of 20/40, 20/50, and 20/50, respectively. The injuries with the lowest mean visual acuity resulted from paintball (20/500) and airsoft gun shooting (20/200). Thirty-three patients (14.7%) required surgical intervention. The average number of follow-up visits within 1 year was five.

Conclusions: Approximately 20% of youth ocular injury visits were sports related, with male teenagers affected most. Hyphema was the most common type of sports-related eye injury posing a lifelong risk of ocular complications. Popular youth sports such as soccer, baseball, and basketball caused the most eye injuries. Shooting sports with paintball and airsoft guns were associated with the greatest loss of vision. Patients infrequently reported the use of protective eyewear at the time of injury. Protective eye equipment should be worn by youth participating in sports to prevent ocular trauma and the potential for surgical intervention. [J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus. 2021;58(6):377-384.].

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries* / diagnosis
  • Athletic Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eye Injuries* / diagnosis
  • Eye Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Eye Injuries* / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyphema
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult