In the United States, basketball is one of the leading causes of sports-related eye injuries. It’s difficult to persuade athletes of any age or skill level to wear protective eyewear.
And after a player experiences a serious injury, such as fractures to the bones around the eye socket, ophthalmologists hear all the excuses for not wearing eye protection. They are concerned that wearing eye protection could affect their peripheral vision or cause fog or sweat to collect on lenses, clouding their vision. Despite the fact that sports goggles have greatly improved over time, their popularity has yet to catch on.
Basketball Eye Injuries: How Much Do They Cost?
Drs. Yen and Foroozan, both team doctors for the Houston Rockets, tracked injury data every day during the 2018–2019 NBA regular season’s 1,230 games. They used press releases and news stories to back up their claims. Game video of each eye injury was examined via the NBA’s online League Pass broadcast subscription to get a full accounting of the injury.
While horrific eye injuries such as dislodged eyes, broken retinas, and fractures have occurred in the past, the injuries suffered in this single-season snapshot were relatively minor. Fourteen eye injuries were discovered, the majority of which were corneal abrasions, which can result in discomfort and blurred vision. Overall, the 2018-2019 seasons cost $2.4 million in lost productivity due to eye injuries based on the injured players’ wages.
The injured players missed a total of 18 games. The player’s absence resulted in an average of one missed victory, based on their individual win/loss ratio. Dr. Yen agrees that one lost win does not seem like much but he points out that making the playoffs may often come down to a one- or two-game difference. However, playoff income, which can exceed $100 million, was not included in this report.
Why Do Athletes Refuse to Wear Eye Protection?
Even while recovering from a serious eye injury, Dr. Foroozan says his patients are hesitant to wear eye protection. Anything that deviates from the standard irritates them since their skills are honed through years of repetition and practice, says Dr. Foroozan.
If you’re a high school athlete or an NBA superstar, the best protection against eye damage is the right protective eyewear. Protective eyewear will help you preserve your vision. Basketball players, as well as those who play racquet sports, soccer, and field hockey, should wear protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses.
All athletes should wear sports eye protection that meets the standards set by governing bodies. Athletes who wear contacts or glasses should use clear eyewear as well. Contact lenses have little safety, and glasses are insufficient.