Eye Safety at Play – Overview banner

For any type of player – professional, amateur or recreational – an eye injury can mean the end of a sporting career – not to mention many other serious consequences. So why not protect your eyes while you play? Research shows that 90 per cent of all eye injuries in sports are preventable.

The most common eye injuries associated with sports are:

  • Corneal abrasions – scrapes and cuts
  • Injuries from a blunt object – such as the impact of ball or puck
  • Penetrating injuries – such as from a plastic or wood splinter

Children under the age of 12 are especially at risk because they are still developing their visual perception, making it easy for a child to misjudge the speed or distance of a ball or puck.

Risk in Specific Sports

Some sports are more hazardous to the eyes than others. Below is a list of sports, ranging from high risk to lower risk.

High Risk: shooting sports that involve an air rifle or BB gun, baseball, basketball, boxing, cricket, fencing, hockey, lacrosse, full-contact martial arts, paintball, racquetball, softball, squash, badminton

Moderate Risk: fishing, football, golf, soccer, tennis, volleyball

Low Risk: bicycling, diving, non-contact martial arts, skiing (snow and water), swimming, wrestling, track & field, gymnastics

Visit your eye care professional or local sporting goods store to learn more about the most appropriate type of protective eyewear for your sport and to ensure a proper fit. The only way to prevent an injury is to make sure you wear your equipment properly.

The Top Three

Statistics collected by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society from 1972 to 2002 found that three types of sports are the worst offenders in terms of risk for eye injuries.

Canadians sustained a total of 1,914 hockey-related injuries over 30 years, 311 resulting in a complete loss of vision. Only nine people who lost their sight completely were wearing eye protection, and in cases where protection was worn, it had not been properly fitted to the player.

Racquet Sports
Racquet sports are the next worst offender. Canadians have suffered a total of 1,135 injuries, 47 of them resulting in a complete loss of vision for the player. Statistically, there are more eye injuries reported from badminton than from all other racquet sports combined.

Last but certainly not least, Canadians reported a total of 513 eye injuries from baseball, 32 of which resulted in a complete loss of vision