From 2010 to 2013, approximately 30,000 individuals a year reported to emergency departments in the United States with sports-related eye injuries, according to a study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology.
Ocular injuries are a significant cause of illness and disability in the U.S. population. Eye injuries can have long-term consequences that affect quality of life for years and can predispose the individual to further injury, depression, and systemic disease. Studies quantifying and characterizing the incidence and type of injuries seen with sports-related ocular trauma may be useful for training and prevention efforts. R. Sterling Haring, D.O., M.P.H., of the University of Lugano, Switzerland, and colleagues sought to estimate and characterize the burden of sports-related ocular trauma in emergency departments (EDs) in the United States. The researchers examined the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, which contains data from approximately 30 million ED visits annually at more than 900 hospitals nationwide, for the period January 2010 to December 2013 to determine factors associated with sports-related ocular trauma.
During the study period, 120,847 individuals (average age, 22 years) presented with sports-related ocular trauma; in more than 70 percent of these cases, eye injuries were the primary diagnosis. Injuries occurred most commonly among males (81 percent) and occurred most frequently as a result of playing basketball (23 percent), playing baseball or softball (14 percent), and shooting an air gun (12 percent). Although most injuries resulting from sports-related activities were superficial, more than one-fifth of baseball-related injuries were blowout fractures of the orbit. Impaired vision was rare but showed a strong affiliation with recreational projectile-firing devices. Paintball and air guns accounted for 26 percent of all cases resulting in impaired vision, despite accounting for only 10 percent of all injuries.
"We have found that these injuries represent a substantial burden in EDs in the United States, accounting for approximately 30,000 ED visits annually - an estimate substantially higher than previously reported. Presenting patients tended to be young, and incidence peaked during adolescent years for both male and female patients. This differential burden on the young highlights the potential for long-term loss of quality-adjusted life years," the authors write.