Sports-related Eye Injuries Dramatically Increasing Among Youth

A study, published in the journal Pediatrics, shows that the rate of eye injuries tied to nonpowder guns – such as BB, pellet and paintball guns – in the United States skyrocketed 168.8% between 1990 and 2012. The study also discovered that among children who have sustained an eye injury from an air gun, 89% of them were unsupervised by an adult.

The sales of air guns has steadily increased over these years, and commercial paintball fields also rose in popularity, which means that many more people had greater access to nonpowder guns.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that youth use protective eyewear glasses that meet safety standards at all times while using nonpowder guns and that they are always supervised by an adult.

In one story, a 12-year-old boy was playing at a paintball range in New Hampshire. He removed his goggles for just a moment, to wipe away the colorful paint splattered across them, and then his life changed forever. He was hit in the face a second time and, without the goggles to protect him, the paintball caused one of his eyes to rupture. He lost his eye.

It is important that parents are aware of the dangers associated with nonpowder guns, talk to their youth about how to stay safe, and supervise their children while using nonpowder guns. While eye protection is not popular among youth, it should be a non-negotiable requirement for participation. Parents should also give their youth alternatives to wiping their eye protection clean to see without taking off the glasses.

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