Eye injuries are a risk when playing sports, particularly sports involving balls, body contact, or exposure to the sun. All eye injuries require immediate first aid.
Sport-related eye injuries most commonly happen because of impact by the ball. Contact between the eye and ball is quite common in racquet sports, but also happens in other games such as rugby, football or hockey. Common impact injuries include:
- Corneal abrasion/cut
- Bleeding in the eye (hyphaema)
A direct blow from another person or a piece of sports equipment is also a regular cause of such injuries in sport.
Radiation injuries can also occur from exposing the eyes to too much ultraviolet light in snow sports or road cycling, so it’s very important to wear appropriate eye protection such as sunglasses or goggles.
Any injury to the eye can be potentially serious, because there is a risk that vision could be permanently impaired. Even a small scratch on the surface of the eye can become infected, so it’s important to seek and follow medical advice. Most eye injuries will require some form of professional medical treatment.
First Aid for Sport-Related Eye Injuries:
1: Help the casualty to lie down on their back and keep their head still. Tell them not to move their good eye. Movement of the eyes could result in further injury.
2: Check to see if there are any visible symptoms including:
- a wound on the eye, eye lid, or socket
- blood in the eye
- blood or fluid coming from the eye
- an embedded foreign body in the eye
Ask the casualty if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- impairment or loss of vision
- pain in the eye
If the casualty has any of these symptoms then they will need urgent medical attention. Arrange to take or send the casualty to hospital with an escort.
3: If the casualty is going to hospital, both eyes should be padded to immobilise them and prevent further damage. Only padding the affected eye won’t minimise movement, as the eyes move together. Gently place a clean, non-fluffy dressing, or sterile eye pad, over the injured eye and then the good eye. Lightly bandage over both eyes.
4: If the casualty doesn’t have any of the above symptoms, but the eye socket is bruised, then a cold compress can help to reduce pain and swelling. The casualty can apply the cold compress to their injured eye for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, resting in between.