Shivali Desai, OD
It’s that time of year again when 68 of the best men’s and women’s basketball teams descend on various cities around the country to play their hearts out for a national title. The crowds are excited with their nachos and soda and cannot wait for tip-off. At tip-off is when the stakes get real. After tip-off is when the chances of having a game or season-ending eye injury is at its highest.
There are numerous ways a player can be injured in the game of basketball. They can sustain a corneal abrasion, laceration, retinal detachment, orbital fracture, and contusion. A lot of these injuries are caused by an elbow to the eye, from other players’ fingers, or the basketball itself. Luckily a lot of these injuries are not season-ending.
Basketball is one of the leading sports that cause ocular injuries. A leading ophthalmology journal, JAMA Ophthalmology, published a study stating according to emergency department data between 2010-2013, basketball injuries accounted for the majority of admissions followed by baseball and air guns. Examples of well-known injuries in NCAA/NBA basketball are:
Amare Stoudemire during his time with the Phoenix Suns during the 2008-2009 season. His team was playing the Los Angeles Clippers and he was poked in the eye which resulted in Amare having a partially torn retina. His season ended after that injury.
Duke Men’s basketball’s next head coach, Jon Scheyer, sustained an injury to the eye which caused legal blindness due to an optic nerve injury and a retinal tear.
Another unfortunate injury occurred when Allen Ray was playing for Villanova. The opposing player was trying to steal the ball away from Ray but instead poked him in the eye accidentally. Ray’s eye immediately popped out of its socket. Fortunately, Ray went on to make a full recovery after that gruesome injury.
Lastly, one of the greats, Steve Nash suffered a contusion to the eye by Tim Duncan. Steve ended up having six stitches and was able to finish that game and went on to the western conference semifinals.
So how do we stop all these eye injuries? Sports goggles that have the player’s prescription in the frame always work very well. A high prescription can even be fit into the frames. The goggles can also be customizable to have a strap or no strap. Polycarbonate lenses should be used for all goggles due to its impact resistance.
At the end of the day, basketball is one of the greatest games to be played. Sometimes It, unfortunately, comes at a cost regarding players’ vision and output of games. One study done during the 2018-2019 Houston Rockets NBA season revealed a loss of $2.4 million worth of productivity due to eye injuries. With protective eye gear hopefully, these injuries will decrease dramatically.
If you find yourself accidentally hit in the eye during a pick-up basketball game or another sport then give us a call at Metrolina Eye Associates for an immediate evaluation to help you.