To investigate the epidemiologic characteristics of sports- and recreation-related eye injuries among children in the United States.


Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System were analyzed in a retrospective study of children ≤17 years of age treated in US emergency departments for sports- and recreation-related eye injuries from 1990 to 2012.


From 1990 through 2012, an estimated 441 800 (95% confidence interval: 378 868–504 733) children were treated in US emergency departments for sports- and recreation-related eye injuries, averaging 26.9 injuries per 100 000 children. Children 10 to 14 and 15 to 17 years old had the highest rate of eye injury. Three-fourths of injuries were sustained by boys. The most common types of injury were corneal abrasion (27.1%), conjunctivitis (10.0%), and foreign body in the eye (8.5%). Most eye injuries were treated and released (94.6%); however, 4.7% were hospitalized. The most common sports and recreation activities and equipment associated with eye injury were basketball (15.9%), baseball and softball (15.2%), and nonpowder guns (10.6%). The overall rate of eye injury decreased slightly during the study period; however, the rate of eye injury associated with nonpowder guns increased by 168.8%, and nonpowder gun-related eye injuries accounted for 48.5% of hospitalizations.


Pediatric sports- and recreation-related eye injuries remain common. Increased prevention efforts are needed, especially for eye injuries associated with nonpowder guns. Increased child, parent, and coach education, as well as adoption of rules that mandate the use of eye protective equipment should be undertaken.

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