Sports activities involve a chance of sustaining different types of eye injury. In various publications on eye trauma, the injuries occurring in sport have gone from 12% to 40% of cases treated in accident and emergency services.

Generally speaking, the sports with the highest risk to the eyes are those involving small balls (tennis, padel, squash, hockey and golf) and team sports (football, basketball and water polo), where there’s a chance an opponent might accidentally knock you over. There are various types of eye trauma and they affect different structures.

Contusion of the periocular area

Due to impact on the tissues surrounding the eyeball which causes various conditions on the integrity of the cornea and sclera.

Orbital fracture

Similar to the previous condition, but involves a fracture of the orbital bones and, on some occasions, may also affect extraocular muscles.

Palpebral lesions

Contusions and injuries that may affect the eyelid (including the edge of the eyelid) and the tear ducts.

Conjunctival lacerations

Conjunctival tears which may or may not be associated with subconjunctival bleeding and possible sclera and extraocular muscle conditions.

Cornea erosions

This is the most common type of injury. It is usually very painful, but can normally be cured quickly. Foreign bodies They may affect the cornea, conjunctiva and/or sclera. Their sources may be different (usually derived from the playing field).

Penetrating injuries

These are due to traumas that affect the whole thickness of the ocular wall, usually causing changes to the eye sight. They usually affect the cornea and/ or sclera, and the eyeball contents may come out or obstruction of some of the eye structures in the injury.

Foreign intraocular bodies

These are infrequent in sports. If they do occur, they are usually associated with a penetrating injury.

Ocular rupture and bursting

These follow a very significant trauma with an acute increase in eye pressure. These injuries are infrequent in sports.

Actinic keratitis

Caused by exposure to sun rays due to failure to use protective glasses or goggles in the snow or while practising water sports. They are not usually significant, but they are very painful, like all cornea conditions.

Chemical burns

These are caused when chemicals come into contact with the eye. They are not common in sports.

A large amount of traumas are unavoidable, but some can be prevented by using eye protection designed especially for each sport.

Dr. Josep Villanueva

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