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Sports trauma: watch out for your eyes!

While we often think about ankle sprains, knee dislocations or even muscle tears linked to playing sports, we don't think enough about eye injuries.

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Sports trauma: watch out for your eyes!

While we often think about ankle sprains, knee dislocations or even muscle tears linked to playing sports, we don't think enough about eye injuries. However, eye injuries are very common, particularly among children and young adults. 30% of them are caused by sporting activities, reports the French Ophthalmology Society. The male predominance is clear with more than 80% of cases.

The severity of these accidents is extremely variable and depends on the affected area, the mechanism of trauma and the intensity of the shock. A finger poke in the eye during a slightly rough contact or a slight shock can cause a superficial hemorrhage of the eye, an injury to the eyelid or the cornea... But if the blow is more powerful, the impact can cause more serious lesions, such as a periorbital fracture which would trap the optic nerve, retinal detachment - the most feared accident -, lesion of the oculomotor muscles, etc.

“Immediately after the accident, it is very difficult to assess the extent and severity of the injury solely by looking at the accident victim’s eyes with the naked eye. If the pain is not necessarily a sign of serious trauma, the presence of blood in the eye, loss or decrease in vision, double vision, an unusual size or shape pupil, an eye that does not move as well as the other or the appearance of a veil are reasons for emergency consultation. On the other hand, if these symptoms do not occur, a consultation in the days following the accident will be sufficient,” advises Professor Ramin Tadayoni, head of the ophthalmology services at the Saint-Louis, Lariboisière and Fernand-Widal university hospitals (AP- HP) and head of the ophthalmology department at the Rothschild Foundation hospital. Whatever the trauma, it is better to consult a specialist who will carry out in-depth examinations.

Furthermore, for any injury to the eye or its contour, it is recommended not to touch the injured eye and to apply water, drops or ointment. If a foreign body is stuck, do not attempt to remove it yourself. Taking ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce pain is also not recommended.

Fortunately, most bruises or wounds are benign and will be treated by instilling eye drops or antibiotic drops to prevent possible infection. Topical anti-inflammatories or oral cortisone may also be prescribed in cases of inflammation. But certain situations require significant treatment, particularly surgical treatment, which has serious consequences. Ocular trauma is the leading cause of non-congenital unilateral blindness in children.

“All these injuries could be avoided if children and adults alike wore protective glasses,” says the specialist. In fact, scientific literature reveals that three quarters of the injured were not wearing protective glasses at the time of the trauma. For wearers of corrective glasses, these protective devices that can be adapted to their vision also appear essential, due to possible glass breakage that can cause serious eye trauma or even blindness.

Beware of dangerous games: As the warm weather approaches, more and more children play outside with toy guns that project foam bullets at high speed. The Rothschild Foundation hospital warns of increasing cases of eye trauma caused by their use. Dangerous balls, always, but on the foot or the hand: these sports are involved in more than 80% of eye accidents. A third of injuries occur during training or a football match, and more than a quarter during a handball, volleyball or basketball match. Lost tennis balls, ping-pong balls or badminton shuttlecocks are also responsible for injuries.

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