National study shows protective eyewear reduces eye, head, and facial injuries

November 12, 2012

A new study conducted by researchers at Hasbro Children's Hospital, the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Fairfax (VA) County Public Schools, and Boston Children's Hospital has found that high school field hockey players competing in states with mandated protective eyewear have significantly lower rates of head, eye, and facial injuries when compared to players who compete in states without protective eyewear mandates.

Each , an estimated 63,000 girls participate in high school-sanctioned field hockey in the United States. Head, facial, and eye injuries are common among field , and, occasionally, are catastrophic. In recent years, there has been ongoing debate among coaches, players, , rules committees, and regarding the efficacy of in preventing these injuries.

The study, currently online and appearing in the December 2012 print issue of Pediatrics, examined injuries among high school field hockey players 14-18 years of age during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 scholastic seasons, just prior to the national mandate by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) requiring the use of protective eyewear for all high school field hockey players which went into effect during the 2011-12 season.

Researchers found that the rates of all head and face injuries (including and concussion) were significantly higher in states with no protective eyewear mandate compared to states with protective eyewear mandates. Players from states with no protective eyewear mandate were more than five times more likely to sustain an eye injury than players from states with mandated protective eyewear. In addition, a larger percentage of injuries sustained by athletes from states with no protective eyewear mandate required more than 10 days to return to activity (32 percent) compared to athletes from states with mandated protective eyewear (17 percent).

"This study adds to an accumulating body of evidence, most recently demonstrated in high school women's lacrosse, that mandated protective eyewear effectively and significantly reduces the rates of head and facial injuries in contact and collision sports," said Peter Kriz, M.D., the study's principal investigator, co-author, and sports medicine physician at Hasbro Children's Hospital. "We now have a large, national study that provides evidence that protective eyewear is indeed effective in reducing head and , including eye and orbital injuries, which validates the decisions of rules committees such as the NFHS to mandate protective eyewear use in high school field hockey and other sports."

The study showed that injuries to the eye orbits, eye globes (eyeball), eyebrows, and eyelids were virtually eliminated in the athletes competing in states that mandated protective eyewear.

"As medical professionals who work closely with athletes and coaches, and who have children ourselves who play contact and collision sports, we are very familiar, and even respectful, of the issues of culture and tradition in sport. Other sports, such as ice hockey and lacrosse, have gone through painstaking processes of balancing safety issues with sport culture and tradition with the goal of providing a safe playing environment without jeopardizing the intrinsic purity and integrity of the game," stated Kriz.

Kriz added, "Here in the Northeast, children learn to play ice hockey with a full facemask/cage from a young age. Many of these kids go on to play field hockey in middle and . They've adopted this protection at a young age, and they don't miss a beat when transitioning to other sports requiring facial protection. Early adoption, rather than integrating mandated protection at a later age, particularly in the setting of this study's results, appears to be the key. I think this will play out in other sports facing similar decisions regarding facial protection, such as baseball and softball."

The researchers also found that rates were similar for athletes from states with mandated protective eyewear and athletes from states with no protective eyewear mandate, and that addition of protective eyewear did not result in more player-player contact injuries.

"Some people think that athletes become more aggressive when they wear additional protective equipment because they feel 'safer.' Critics fear that this increased aggression will actually lead to more injuries," said study co-author, Dawn Comstock, Ph.D., principal investigator in the Center for Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Our study challenges this perception. We found no increase in the rate of concussions or player-to-player contact injuries in that mandated protective eyewear."

Explore further: Protective eyewear can ward off injuries in young athletes

Related Stories

Protective eyewear can ward off injuries in young athletes

July 27, 2012
Doctors warn of spike in sports-related eye injuries with start of training season.

The Medical Minute: July is eye injury prevention month

July 8, 2011
Summer is here and from lawn care and household projects to summer sports, there are plenty of things we find to keep ourselves busy during these hot months. And the best thing about July … the fireworks! But before ...

Sports-related kidney injuries rare in high school athletes

June 18, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Sports-related kidney injuries occur significantly less frequently than other injuries in high school athletes, according to a study published online June 18 in Pediatrics.

Recommended for you

Genome editing with CRISPR-Cas9 prevents angiogenesis of the retina

July 24, 2017
A research team from the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear has successfully prevented mice from developing angiogenesis of the retina—the sensory tissue at the back of the eye—using gene-editing ...

Too little vitamin D may hinder recovery of injured corneas

July 24, 2017
Injury or disease in combination with too little vitamin D can be bad for the window to your eyes.

Combination of type 2 diabetes and sleep apnoea indicates eyesight loss within four years

July 4, 2017
Research led by the University of Birmingham has discovered that patients who suffer from both Type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnoea are at greater risk of developing a condition that leads to blindness within an average ...

Nearly 60% of pinkeye patients receive antibiotic eye drops, but they're seldom necessary

June 28, 2017
A new study suggests that most people with acute conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, are getting the wrong treatment.

Magnetic implants used to treat 'dancing eyes'

June 26, 2017
A research team has successfully used magnets implanted behind a person's eyes to treat nystagmus, a condition characterised by involuntary eye movements.

Drug shows promise against vision-robbing disease in seniors

June 21, 2017
An experimental drug is showing promise against an untreatable eye disease that blinds older adults—and intriguingly, it seems to work in patients who carry a particular gene flaw that fuels the damage to their vision.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.