Field hockey has become more popular among high school athletes over the past two decades, and changes to equipment and the style of play have increased the risk of injuries, especially eye injuries.
The study, “Effectiveness of Protective Eyewear in Reducing Eye Injuries Among High School Field Hockey Players,” in the December 2012 Pediatrics (published online Nov. 12), analyzed eye injuries in field hockey players in 14 states in 2009 and 2010, when not all states required protective eyewear. (The National Federation of State High School Associations mandated high school field hockey players wear protective eyewear starting in the 2011-2012 season.)
Of 212 injuries to the eyes, face and head, 31 occurred in athletes who lived in states with an eyewear mandate; 181 occurred in athletes living in states without an eyewear requirement. Only 1 eye injury was reported in states that required eye protection. In states that did not require protection, 21 eye injuries were reported. Overall, the protective eyewear requirement was associated with a 32 percent lower rate of total head and face injury, and an 80 percent lower rate of eye injuries. Concussion rates were similar between the two groups.
Study authors conclude that playing field hockey without protective eyewear results in a significantly increased risk of head and face injuries, and they suggest further research to determine whether protective eyewear would reduce the risk of eye injuries for athletes on collegiate and national teams.