Objective: To: (i) determine the magnitude and describe the spectrum of sports-related eye injuries; (ii) compare the sporting profile variations within Australia and overseas; and (iii) provide recommendations to help decrease the frequency and severity of eye injuries in sports.
Design and setting: Descriptive study of sports-related eye injuries identified from a cross-sectional survey of ocular trauma treated in an eye hospital during a two-year period from November 1989 to October 1991.
Results: Although sports injuries comprised only 5% of all eye trauma, they accounted for a disproportionately high ocular morbidity, representing 22% of hospital admissions. Most patients were admitted for hyphaema (81%), but there were eight ruptured globes and 20 other cases required surgical repair. For those hospitalised for serious injuries, 19% were legally blind (visual acuity < or = 6/60) and 10% had visual acuity between 6/18 and 6/36 initially, with 29% of patients recording a visual loss in excess of 50% incapacity (< or = 6/18) at three months after injury.
Conclusion: Eye injuries were most frequently caused by squash, badminton, Australian Rules football and cricket, a sports profile distinctly different from those of the United States and United Kingdom. That none of the players in may study had worn correct eye protection offers a wide scope for preventing injuries in what should be safe recreational pastimes.