The ocular complications of boxing

Ophthalmology. 1987 Jun;94(6):587-96. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(87)33404-9.


In cooperation with the New York State Athletic Commission, 74 boxers applying for a new or yearly renewal license were sequentially referred over a 2-year period for a complete dilated ocular examination at the Sports Vision Institute of the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. At least one ocular injury was found in 66% of boxers. Vision-threatening injuries, defined as significant damage to the angle, lens, macula, or peripheral retina occurred in 58% of boxers. Nineteen percent of boxers had angle abnormalities. Nineteen percent of boxers had pathologic cataracts, over 70% of these were posterior subcapsular. Six boxers had macular lesions. A total of 24% of boxers had retinal tears. Standardized photographs were used to distinguish pathologic cataracts from congenital opacities and pathologic retinal tears from atrophic holes. Attempts were made to identify risk factors in boxing that might be predictive for ocular injury. Variables included age, weight division, left- or right-handedness, total number of losses, and total number of bouts. Significant correlations were found between the total number of bouts and the total number of losses, and the presence of retinal tears. College varsity athletes were selected as controls. Significant differences were found between boxers and controls for the total number of injuries, total vision-threatening injuries, and the number of retinal tears. A series of recommendations are proposed to aide in the early detection and prevention of serious ocular injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Boxing*
  • Conjunctival Diseases / etiology
  • Corneal Diseases / etiology
  • Eye Injuries / etiology*
  • Eye Injuries / pathology
  • Humans
  • Iris Diseases / etiology
  • Lens Diseases / etiology
  • Male
  • Refractive Errors / etiology
  • Statistics as Topic