Hockey eye injuries; pucks, sticks, elbows

When a friend showed up at the offices of ABRAMS LANDAU after an adult ice hockey match with a fractured orbit and impressive shiner, Ashburn and Reston sports injury lawyer Doug Landau looked into the injury, frequency and steps to prevent such head and facial trauma.

Orbital blowout fractures are cracks or breaks in the facial bones surrounding the “socket” that houses the eyeball. Orbital fractures of the facial ones surrounding the eye can result from such blunt trauma as getting hit by an ice hockey stick, puck or opponent’s elbow. Blows to the face and head can result in concussion, loss of consciousness and orbital fractures and eye injury. Wearing face masks has dramatically reduced the risk of eye injuries, including orbital lacerations and facial fractures. In players wearing partial or no protection, eye trauma resulting from a stick, puck, or elbow can cause hyphema, orbit fracture, retinal detachment, or globe rupture. According to The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine, no blinding eye injury has ever been reported in a hockey player wearing full facial protection.

Total head and face protection is essential for any collision sport. In ice hockey, the risk of eye injury is not so much from collision as from a flying puck. The use of face masks in amateur ice hockey in Canada led to a 66 percent reduction in eye injuries, as reported in the Textbook of Orthpaedics, Trauma & Sports Medicine

Bottom line: players should wear head and face protection in ice hockey games and practices in order to prevent eye, face and head injury.

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