Splat! You're Blind

Paintball eye injuries often result in devastating consequences, according to study

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Eye injuries from paintball mishaps often result in devastating consequences, according to a study in the American Journal of Opthamology.

Researchers from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine found 81 percent of paintball eye injuries required surgical intervention, including removal of the eye (enucleation) in 22 percent of the 36 patients treated for paintball injuries to the eye at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

Most of the paintball victims were young men with an average age of 21.

Rupture of the eyeball occurred in 28 percent of patients and detached retina occurred in 19 percent. And even when the eye was saved, near-normal optical performance (20/40 vision or better) occurred in only 36 percent of the patients.

According to Dr. Kyle J. Alliman, all of the injuries happened in a "non-recreational, uncontrolled setting," meaning that the injuries occurred not during normal, organized paintball games, but when people were just "playing around" with paintball guns.

Retinal detachment is a serious condition requiring immediate surgery to save eyesight. It occurs when the retina (a critical layer of tissue at the back of the eye) is pulled away from the layer of blood vessels that supply it with oxygen and nutrients. Often sight can be saved if the condition is treated within 24 hours. Symptoms of retinal detachment include: the sudden appearance of many small, floating specks (floaters), sudden flashes of light and what appears to be a shadow or curtain that covers a portion of the visual field.

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Review Date: 
February 10, 2011
Last Updated:
February 12, 2011