Youth Baseball and Eye Injuries

Looking at preventative measures

As everyone know, baseball season is now in full swing. But what many probably don’t know is that youth athletes under the age of 14 incur more eye injuries in baseball and softball than any other sport. In rare instances, these injuries can result in permanent damage or even blindness.

Overall, there are more than 40,000 eye injuries reported each year, most occurring in baseball and basketball, followed by water and racquet sports. Balls, bats, pucks, racquets, and sticks are used in the sports that pose the highest risk for eye injuries. These sports also typically include body contact.

The leading cause of child blindness in the U.S. is injury, with most cases occurring in sports-related activities, according to the National Eye Institute. Penetration, blunt trauma and radiation are the most common causes of sports-related eye injuries. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can result in radiation damage, which can be a particular risk when snow skiing, water skiing and participating in other water and snow sports.

Prevention measures

According to Jay Novetsky, 90% of sports-related eye injuries are preventable. Novetsky, an eye surgeon at the Vision Institute of Michigan, advocates for protective eyewear as part of every sports’ regulated safety equipment, such as safety shields, safety glasses, goggles and eye guards.

To specifically prevent injuries in baseball, batting helmets can be fitted with protective face guards and fielders can wear safety-certified sports goggles.

Many people don’t realize  that prescription glasses (and sunglasses) worn during play not only don’t offer protection, but they increase the risk of eye injury. Street eyeglasses and contacts can easily shatter upon impact and puncture the eye and surrounding areas.  Athletes who wear glasses or contacts can usually have their prescriptions matched in protective eyewear.

Return to Play

In order to return to play following an eye injury, the eye should be pain free, cause no discomfort and vision returned to normal. Release by an ophthalmologist should be required before an player with a serious eye injury returns to play. The team physician or athletic trainer should be able to determine if and when players with less serious eye injuries can return. Athletes returning to play following an eye injury should be required to wear eye protection to avoid a second injury.


Source: “Baseball Ranks #1 in Sports-related Eye Injuries for Kids.”.  www.digitaljournal.com. 14 April, 2016.