Children and teenagers are at the highest risk for any type of sports injury, and many of these injuries have the potential to cause severe vision problems. Dr. Denise Smith, Austin eye care specialist, has helped many adolescent patients recover after sports-related concussions and visual impairments. She explains the common injuries and their effects, as well as the best tips to limit injuries moving forward.
Younger athletes are at a much higher risk for injury than adults. Kids and teens tend to play multiple sports before settling on one to master, so there is a steep learning curve as they understand the game and hone their skills. Each developmental stage and age group presents its own unique problems as well. Younger children may lack the hand-eye coordination necessary to prevent injury, while teens in puberty might have excess aggression and difficulty with impulse control. All of these factors combine to make childhood sports one of the top causes for accidents and injuries.
There are two major types of injuries that an Austin eye care specialist will be primarily concerned with: orbital (eye) injuries, and head trauma that results in concussion. Since both are extremely common among kids and teens, the Austin vision center is skilled in the best ways to diagnose and treat these conditions.
Injuries to the eye and surrounding areas of the face happen all the time in sports. Any game involving a ball also includes the risk of being hit in the face with a ball. Additional equipment, like baseball bats and hockey sticks, are equally dangerous. Close contact sports run the risk of elbows and knees to the face. Fights can break out, and sometimes result in black eyes. But, despite all of this, sports remain an overall healthy and safe activity for children. One way to make sports much safer is to insist that children wear eye goggles or protective eye gear that is appropriate for their sport. They may not appreciate this requirement, but damage to the eye can result in great pain, or even permanent blindness.
Eye injuries occur frequently, but concussions are the number one most prevalent concern. Your child is more likely to have a concussion while playing sports than to suffer any other injury. A concussion – also known as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – can result in a variety of visual concerns. These are conditions in their own right, as well as warning signs that a concussion has occurred:
Visual Problems After Concussion
- Double vision
- Blurred vision
- Reduction/loss of visual field
- Difficulty with eye tracking
- Light sensitivity
- Trouble reading or comprehending
- Trouble focusing on visual tasks
- Headaches when reading or writing
- Difficulty maintaining focus
- Incorrect depth perception or eye alignment
Visual problems resulting from concussion can often be successfully treated with options such as optometric vision therapy, corrective lenses, neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy, and light therapy. Operating on the eye muscle is rarely effective, because concussions are injuries to the brain, not the actual eye.