Keep your eye on the ball… - Pietermaritzburg Eye Hospital

Keep your eye on the ball…

Keep your eye on the ball…

Sports and activity environments come with their own unique set of risks to the eyes. Awareness of the whereabouts of the sports equipment and balls helps to reduce the chance of accidents and collisions.  A good life-long habit of wearing protective clothing specific to each sport/ activity at all times such as glasses for squash and cycling should be encouraged and enforced.

Myth- My eye glasses protect my eyes from sports injuries. Sports protection eyewear are made with a high impact resistant plastic material called polycarbonate, unlike fragile eyewear which can cause additional injury. Many optometrists are able to fit prescription lenses into sports eyewear. Sunglasses for supporters, coaches and spectators is highly recommended for all outdoor activity.

Myth – Larger balls do less harm than smaller balls. All shapes and sizes of balls can cause minor or major injuries, as can opponents’ elbows and other body parts and even sports equipment. Larger balls are more likely to injure the bones and soft tissue around the eyes causing bruising and lacerations. Smaller balls more often cause damage to the eyeball resulting in lacerations/ abrasions, bleeding in the eye, and detached retina.

Myth- A bag of frozen vegetables can be used as an ice pack for eye injuries. The eye is so vulnerable to infection, especially through a wound, so you should only use a soft item around your eyes, such as a clean cloth soaked in cold or iced water.

Myth- If my vision is blurred after an injury, I can wait overnight to see if it improves. Persistent blurred or double-vision and flashes of light or floating spots in your vision are signs that you need to consult a Doctor as soon as possible. Visible differences or abnormalities in how the eye looks requires an assessment by an ophthalmologist.  If your gut feels there is a problem, it is most likely correct. Follow it! Don’t “wait and see”.

Myth- If I feel a grain of sand in my eye it has to be there, somewhere. A gritty feeling in the eye may be caused by a small particle of dust or sand, or a laceration/ cut on the eye surface, or an embedded foreign body. If the feeling persists after rinsing the eye with clean water and keeping it closed and still for 5 minutes, it may need to be assessed by a Doctor.

Fact- Seek help as soon as possible if you have an eye injury.

● An eye injury can happen to anyone at any time, so be sure to take precautions and wear protective eye gear. 

● If irritants (e.g. dust or sand) are in the eye, flush the eye with clean water. Do not rub the eye.

● If an object is stuck in the eye, don’t try to remove it. Seek help immediately.

● Unsure about the severity of the injury, go to the emergency room immediately. 

● The first 24 hours after an injury are important to prevent low vision and other permanent problems.

Our Ophthalmologist on Call is available to discuss your case with your healthcare professional if they need some expert input.

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