Sport accounts for 10% of children’s severe eye trauma: 12-year audit

Sports-related eye injuries are common, due to children’s close proximity to fast-moving balls, sharp equipment and physical contact with other competitors. It was stated in the LEI study that in Australia eye injuries from sporting activities accounted for 10% of severe eye trauma in children, with permanent visual damage occurring in 27% of those cases.
In the playground and elsewhere, novelty its such as loom bands (rubber bracelets) have caused significant eye damage to children both in Australia and overseas. The availability of hand-held laser ‘toys’ and their potential to cause retinal damage is also a concern.
Children’s developing physical coordination and limited ability to detect risks in their environment increases their risk of eye trauma. While risks should not hinder the provision of engaging and interesting activities in school environments, mild injuries such as eyelid bruising or corneal abrasions do occur. Lasting damage can be caused by more serious high-impact injuries such as blunt trauma or penetrating injuries.
“A child’s visual development continues from birth until seven to eight years of age therefore visual outcomes following trauma in children are worse than adults. Any approach to reduce incidence of eye injuries in children should attpt to rove or limit hazards – with parents and caregivers as vital influences on attitudes for change,” RANZCO president Dr Brad Horsburgh said.
From the 12-year audit by LEI it was found that children’s eye injuries requiring hospital admission were most commonly caused by being struck by an object. “Other causes were children falling over, and hitting their eye, and then things being thrown,” Professor David Mackey, managing director of LEI, said.
With those findings, Prof Mackey stresses: “The most important thing is that parents and people involved in the care and supervision of children are alert to potential dangers. We need to work further at designing better protective strategies for children. Looking at sports perhaps change the rules of the sport or the ways children use pieces of equipment, and if that’s not possible, whether we can have protective headgear that they can wear to stop their eyes being injured.
“By adopting simple protective measures, such as using eye protectors when necessary, 90% of eye injury is preventable.”
“School should be a safe environment for childhood learning and with proper precautions and education, we can make sure that it is for our children and their eyesight,” Dr Horsburgh said.

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