Sports-related eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children. In recent years, the increasing popularity of paintball war games has lead to many serious, vision-threatening injuries. These injuries are especially common in unorganized paintball activities, when no eye protection is worn. However, injuries often occur when participants remove protective eyewear during play in order to clean it.

Your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) urges you to use extreme caution if you or your children participate in paintball activities. Unfortunately, eyes that have been injured by paintballs have very poor recovery rates, and vision loss is very likely.

Visit an eye-care professional to have yourself or your child fitted with the appropriate protective eyewear before participating in a paintball game or using a paintball gun. Game participants should also be instructed to create a time-out rule by yelling “time out” or a similar agreed-upon phrase when they need to remove their protective eyewear for cleaning. Better yet, participants should not remove the protective eyewear until they are away from the area where paintball guns are being used and out of range of being hit.

(c) 2007 The American Academy of Ophthalmology

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This post was written by Rob Schertzer