OKLAHOMA CITY, Sept. 1 Noah was seven yearsold when an errant paintball smashed into his left eye and sent him from thesidelines of his brothers' game to the emergency room.
"I remember being very dizzy and I couldn't stop vomiting," said Noah. "Ihad to wait in the hospital for my eye pressure to go down and for all theblood to drain out of my eye."
Noah later developed a cataract and a detached retina in his left eye; hesubsequently underwent successful surgery to repair the traumatic cataract andretinal detachment. In spite of the fact that his traumatic cataract has beenremoved and his retina has been repaired, he now wears a contact lens and hassome permanent double vision.
"Unfortunately this is a common story when you mix sports and the lack ofproper eye protection," said Abdhish R. Bhavsar, MD, Noah's doctor and aclinical correspondent for the Academy. "While Noah was a bystander in thisinstance, 40,000 people suffer from eye injuries related to sports everyyear."
According to Noah's mom, "Hand and eye coordination is now very difficultfor Noah," and though he loves baseball and tennis he has decided to take upswimming instead. Still, she says, "Noah never lets his spirits down."
Maura knows all too well how quickly an eye injury like Noah's can happen.Thirteen years ago at hockey practice in Connecticut, she sustained a serioushit to her eye from a teammate's hockey stick. The accident left her withyears of pain and permanent double vision in her left eye.
"She had the largest break in her eyeball that I had ever seen," said JoelS. Schuman, MD, Maura's doctor and clinical correspondent for the Academy."She required multiple surgeries and we were happy and fortunate that we wereable to save her eye."
After ten surgeries Maura still struggles with her vision, but feelsconfident about her efforts to change the way people view eye protection andsports. Living in Washington, DC, she now does policy work, a naturaloutgrowth of the advocacy campaign she undertook after her injury to encouragelocal schools to mandate protective eyewear for school sports. Within threeyears after she started the effort, most of the local schools requiredprotective eyewear for their field hockey teams.
"Instead of being taken down by this very serious injury, Maura turned itinto a drive to prevent it happening to others," said Dr. Schuman.
September is Children's Eye Safety Awareness Month, the Oklahoma Academyof Ophthalmology reminds Oklahoma student athletes and school sports programsto get EyeSmart and use appropriate, sport-specific protective eyewearproperly fitted by an eye care professional. Most youth sporting leagues don'trequire protective eyewear, so parents should take special care to ensuretheir children's eye safety. "This is an important way for parents to sparetheir children unnecessary injury and pain," says Dr. Schuman.
"I recommend safety goggles for all sporting activities, even when itcomes to children playing in their own homes," said Dr. Bhavsar. "We even puton safety goggles when we play catch with a baseball in our own backyard."
Learn more about eye injuries, eye diseases, and the names of Eye M.D.s inyour area by visiting www.GetEyeSmart.org.
About the Oklahoma Academy of Ophthalmology
The OAO is a member organization of nearly 100 Oklahoma ophthalmologistswhich was founded to promote the science and art of medical eye care. Eyehealthcare is provided by three sources -- opticians, optometrists andophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat alleye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. inyour area, visit the OAO's Web site at www.OklahomaEyes.org.
The EyeSmart Campaign is an initiative of the Academy, with its partnerEyeCare America, to raise the publi