When Playing Ball And Your Eyes Cry Foul, Who Do You Call? Your Eye Doctor

Derrick RoseNorth Carolina, Oklahoma, Syracuse and Villanova are headed to college basketball’s Final Four. The NBA playoffs have moved into high gear. Major League Baseball is keying up for opening day.So what do these three big sporting events have in common – besides a huge fan following and big T.V. ratings? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), these college and professional athletes play in two of the three sports that cause the most sports-related eye injuries (racquet sports round out the top three).

As Key-Whitman Eye Center’s Dallas Eye Doctor, Todd Agnew, O.D., explains, “We treat a variety of sports-related eye injuries at Key-Whitman – from corneal abrasions to orbital fractures and more. Basketball, baseball and racquet sports, along with soccer, bring the most athletes through our doors for treatment of eye injuries and a host of vision problems.”

Orbital fractures grab headlines, but infections and inflammation are more common

While Pittsburgh Pirates young prospect Austin Meadows and Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose dominated headlines following news of their orbital fractures, Dr. Agnew and team see other sports-related eye injuries much more frequently.

According to Dr. Agnew, Clinical Director of Optometric Services at Key-Whitman, the most common athlete eye injuries Key-Whitman eye doctors treat include:

  • Corneal abrasion. A scratch on the eye’s cornea, the clear, protective lens in front of the iris. The most common sports-related eye injury, a corneal abrasion can result in an eye infection.
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage. A broken or bruised blood vessel on the surface of the white part of the eye. Typically heals with time.
  • Traumatic iritis. An inflammatory response following a poke or elbow to the eye. Usually causes pain and light sensitivity.
  • Hyphema. Pooling of blood between the cornea and iris, visible in the colored area of the eye. Typically causes vision loss and pain.
  • Eyelid laceration. Actual cuts to the eyelid. May need eyelid surgery to repair damage.
  • Orbital fracture. Damage to the bone surrounding the eyeball, may cause real pain upon attempted eye movement (up, down, left, right) and herniated eye muscles, resulting in double vision. Eyeball can appear to be sunken in. Depending on severity, may or may not require surgical repair.

You should seek immediate care following an eye injury

While some eye injuries simply heal over time, it’s still imperative to visit your eye health practitioner right away to reduce long-term risks. And don’t hesitate to head to the emergency room for serious eye injuries.

“When you experience an injury that could affect your eyes or vision permanently, the sooner you see an eye health specialist, the better your odds are of recovering full function relative to the eye. Without a doctors care, pain, discomfort and permanent vision loss could result,” warns Dr. Agnew.

Eye exams can reveal multiple health issues following an injury

What many people don’t realize is eye doctors perform a comprehensiveeye exam along with several other tests following a sports-related or general eye injury. This is necessary in order to diagnose all eye problems and potentially reveal other health issues.

As Dr. Agnew explains, “When we examine a patient with an eye injury, we need to look at the visible symptoms (i.e. blood visible in the eye, swollen eyelids, etc.), listen to patient feedback (i.e., “I took a traumatic blow to the head, my eye hurts, and I have double vision) and conduct a series of tests (i.e., dilated eye exam, CT orbital scan, etc.) before we come up with a diagnosis.”

Case in point, a symptom like double vision could result from an orbital fracture, but it could also be a sign of a concussion.

“During the exam, we may find multiple eye problems that need be addressed. For example, we often find retinal issues in patients with orbital fractures. At the same time, traumatic brain injuries (concussions) are common in contact sports, so we may refer the patient to a specialist for an MRI if concussion symptoms are present,” Dr. Agnew says.

If you want to play ball, rely on a full-service eye care practice

Many people think of Key-Whitman as cataract surgery and LASIK surgery specialists. While this may be true, you’ll also find a full spectrum of eye care professionals on staff who specialize in treating sports-related eye injuries, along with other eye diseases and conditions.

According to Dr. Agnew, “We have oculoplastic surgeons who specialize in treating injuries like orbital fractures. In addition, our team includes corneal specialists, retinal specialists, glaucoma specialists and eye doctors who specialize in the treatment of macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease and more. We really cover all the bases,” Dr. Agnew says.