Paintball injuries can cause serious eye damage

By Tom Nordlie • Published: May 25th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s easy to understand why paintball is so popular.

Basically a sophisticated game of tag, it offers tough cardio workouts, competition and adrenaline-spiking thrills.

Players use air guns to shoot paint-filled balls that explode on contact, leaving no doubt whether an opponent’s been hit.

Some ten-million Americans play the game.

It’s generally safe, but those paintballs fly at speeds up to two-hundred miles per hour.

And if a paintball strikes a player in the eye, it can cause serious damage.

That’s why organized leagues and commercial facilities require players to use protective eyewear.

Unfortunately, some people play without supervision and don’t bother with precautions.

According to an article published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, they’re the ones most likely to receive eye injuries.

In the study, doctors reviewed thirty-six cases from a single hospital in Florida.

About eighty-five percent of the patients were male. All but two of them were injured while playing without protective eyewear.

And none of the cases arose from a formal, sponsored event.

Common injuries included bleeding inside the eye, detached retinas and ruptured corneas.

Eighty percent of the cases required surgery.

After treatment, half the injured eyes didn’t recover past the point of twenty/two-hundred vision. That’s legally blind.

Of those, half had no light perception. That’s totally blind.

By now it should be easy to see what we’re getting at.

If you’re thinking about playing paintball without protective gear, you don’t need to have your eyes examined.

You need to have your head examined.