Help and frequently asked questions

What eye impairments are related to sports?


Many Australians enjoy playing a sport, whether it's for social, fitness or athletic reasons. However, if you are a keen sports player it's important to be aware of the eye impairments and conditions that can arise as you take part in the game.

Vision and sports

Accurate vision is a crucial aspect of sporting ability for many athletes. Hand-eye coordination is essential for many disciplines such as badminton, tennis, netball, rugby, basketball and more. Clear vision, visual acuity and concentration all go hand in hand when it comes to focusing on a particular play, and peripheral vision is also important. Athletes need to be able to see and identify the objects and people around them during fast-paced games, and if you have a vision problem your ability to do so will be compromised significantly. Sports also carry a risk of injury to the delicate eye area through contact with other players or accidents during play, and these incidents have the potential to damage the player's vision severely.

Athletes should take all necessary steps for eye protection, including wearing safety goggles as required and sunglasses to protect against exposure to the sunlight during outdoor games. For more information on how you can improve your vision for sports, talk to your optometrist. Eye impairments and sportIt's important to take extra precautions with your eyes whenever sports are concerned, as the risk for an injury can be relatively high. Fortunately, many of these are preventable with the right gear such as safety glasses and goggles, safety shields and eye guards. It should be noted that if you wear prescription glasses already, you will need some extra measures as these do not protect against the risk of eye injury on their own. The amount of eye injury risk will differ depending on the type of sport you play. Some sports involve a low amount of contact with other players and don't use any object for hitting or throwing around the court or field. These include swimming and running.

However, sports such as hockey, squash, soccer and volleyball carry a greater level of risk. If one or both eyes is hit at full force with a ball, for example, it can cause significant blunt trauma to the area. Impact from a stick or other tool can also cause sharp trauma. The skin, eyelids and bones surrounding the eye can all be affected as can the eyeball itself. Eyelid tissue that is cut or turn due to an injury should be seen by an optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately, as it can also affect the way tears drain out of the eye. The bones around the eye may also fracture due to trauma, which can be relatively common in sports players. If there are any surrounding tissues trapped in the fracture it can cause a loss of vision or double vision over a gradual period of time. If the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) is scratched it may become red, painful and teary. You may need a patch to cover the eye while it heals or antibiotic eye drops. Any lacerations deeper than the cornea can cause a permanent loss of vision and should be seen by an optometrist immediately. Trauma to the eye can also cause bleeding further inside the eyeball, called a hyphema. This can result in increased pressure build up, swollen eyelids, pain, redness and more. In addition to this, contact sports may increase the risk of a retinal tear or detachment, where the layer of tissue covering the back part of the eye is loosened and may separate away from the eyeball. It can cause a loss of vision that may become permanent if not treated. If you have sustained any type of injury to your eye area it's crucial to see an optometrist or eye specialist immediately, as your vision may be permanently affected.