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