Sports That Pose Greatest Risk for Eye

With the arrival warmer weather, you’re probably eager to play your favorite outdoor activities and sports again. While sports are an important part of an active lifestyle, they can pose a serious threat to your vision if precautions are not taken.

Every 13 minutes, an emergency room in the United States treats a sports-related eye injury. Many of these injuries are caused by improper eye protection and can result in permanent vision loss. Not all sports carry the same risk. Baseball, for example, is the leading cause of sports-related eye injury in children 14 and under. Football is only considered of moderate risk to eyes, but basketball is a leading cause of eye injuries among 15- to 24-year-olds.

Sports and Eye Injury Risk

High Risk Moderate Risk Low Risk
Baseball Football Bicycling
Basketball Soccer Diving
Boxing Tennis Skiing
Hockey Badminton Swimming
Paintball Fishing Wrestling


All activities carry some risk, so protect your eyes during any sport. Before you or your child begins a new sport, research the recommended equipment and eye protection so you can prevent an eye injury. For a list of recommended protective eyewear for various sports, click here (source: NEI).

Signs of an Eye Injury

Although we can take precautions to prevent eye injuries, sometimes they do happen. Here are some common signs and symptoms of eye injuries:

  • Pain when looking up and/or down
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Eye tenderness
  • Sunken eyes
  • Double vision
  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty tracking
  • Blood in the clear part of the eye
  • Numbness of the upper cheek
  • Unusual pupil size or shape

If you or your child experiences an eye-related injury, call an ophthalmologist right away. Some eye injuries are time-sensitive and could result in permanent vision loss if not treated immediately.

The best way to protect your family’s vision is to make regular appointments with your ophthalmologist for complete eye exams with dilation. At your appointment, discuss eye safety and protective eyewear with your ophthalmologist. You can also order prescription goggles or face shields so your family can have clear vision without compromising eye safety. If you need help finding a board-certified ophthalmologist in your area, click here to use our Physician Locator.

Related Articles:

How to Protect Your Eyes During Your Favorite Hobbies and Sports
Make Safety a Priority During Eye Injury Prevention Month
Protect Your Eyes During Summer Activities