OBJECTIVE:

To determine if injury rates differ among high school field hockey players in states that mandated protective eyewear (MPE) versus states with no protective eyewear mandate (no MPE).

METHODS:

We analyzed field hockey exposure and injury data collected over the 2009–2010 and 2010–2011 scholastic seasons from national and regional databases.

RESULTS:

Incidence of all head and face injuries (including eye injuries, concussion) was significantly higher in no-MPE states compared with MPE states, 0.69 vs 0.47 injuries per 1000 athletic exposures (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.47; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.04–2.15, P = .048). Players in the no-MPE group had a 5.33-fold higher risk of eye injury than players in the MPE group (IRR 5.33; 95% CI: 0.71–39.25, P = .104). There was no significant difference in concussion rates for the 2 groups (IRR 1.04; 95% CI: 0.63–1.75, P = .857). A larger percentage of injuries sustained by athletes in the no-MPE group required >10 days to return to activity (32%) compared with athletes in the MPE group (17%), but this difference did not reach statistical significance (P = .060).

CONCLUSIONS:

Among high school field hockey players, playing in a no-MPE state results in a statistically significant higher incidence of head and face injuries versus playing in an MPE state. Concussion rates among players in MPE and no-MPE states were similar, indicating that addition of protective eyewear did not result in more player-player contact injuries, challenging a perception in contact/collision sports that increased protective equipment yields increased injury rates.

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