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

November 12, 2012, Lifespan

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

Study advances gene therapy for glaucoma

January 16, 2018
While testing genes to treat glaucoma by reducing pressure inside the eye, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists stumbled onto a problem: They had trouble getting efficient gene delivery to the cells that act like drains ...

New study offers added hope for patients awaiting corneal transplants

January 9, 2018
New national research led by Jonathan Lass of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has found that corneal donor tissue can be safely stored for 11 days before transplantation surgery to correct eye problems ...

Diabetic blindness caused and reversed "trapped" immune cells in rodent retinas

January 3, 2018
Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a cell signaling pathway in mice that triggers vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion – diseases characterized by the closure of blood vessels ...

Ophthalmologists increasingly dissatisfied with electronic health records

December 29, 2017
Ophthalmologists' use of electronic health records (EHR) systems for storing and accessing patients' medical histories more than doubled between 2006 and 2016, while their perceptions of financial and clinical productivity ...

Higher omega-3 fatty acid intake tied to lower glaucoma risk

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—Increased daily intake of ω-3 fatty acids is associated with lower odds of glaucoma, but higher levels of total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake are associated with higher odds of developing glaucoma, ...

Protein analysis allows for treatment of eye-disease symptoms with existing drugs

December 21, 2017
Demonstrating the potential of precision health, a team led by a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine has matched existing drugs to errant proteins expressed by patients with a rare eye disease.

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.