The rate of pediatric eye injuries associated with use of "non-powder" pellet, BB or paintball guns rose by nearly 169 percent over a 23-year period, according to a study in the February 2018 Pediatrics that analyzed eye injuries associated with sports and recreational activities that were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments.
The study, "Pediatric Sports- and Recreation-Related Eye Injuries Treated in U.S. Emergency Departments" (published online Jan. 8), found that the overall rate of eye injuries sustained by children age 17 and under decreased slightly between 1990 and 2012. Researchers reviewed data provided by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System on 441,800 children treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. They found that children 10-14 and 15-17 had the highest rate of eye injuries, and that 75 percent of the injuries were sustained by boys.
The most common sports and recreation activities and equipment associated with eye injury were basketball (15.9 percent); baseball or softball (15.2 percent: and non-powder guns (10.6 percent). Nearly half of eye injuries that required hospitalization were associated with non-powder guns. Of those, 79.2 percent were associated with BB or pellet guns.
Nationally, on average more than 19,000 children were treated in emergency departments annually for eye injuries, with an overall injury rate of 26.9 injuries per 100,000 children. The authors recommend increased prevention efforts, including adopting rules that mandate use of eye protective equipment.