A Systematic Review on the Effectiveness of Eyewear in Reducing the Incidence and Severity of Eye Injuries in Racket Sports

James F.D. Mazarelo, Samantha L. Winter & Daniel T.P. Fong (2023) The Physician and Sports medicine, ahead of print  

To assess what eyewear (if any) reduces eye injury incidence and severity in squash, racketball, tennis and badminton.

Systematic review following the ‘Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses’ (PRISMA) and the ‘implementing Prisma in Exercise, Rehabilitation, Sport medicine and SporTs science’ (PERSiST) guidelines.

PubMed, SportDiscus and Web of Science were searched on 22nd February 2023. All study types except reviews were eligible. Studies had to report the type of eyewear worn (if any) with a form of eye injury incidence and severity.

364 papers were initially retrieved and after the screening process 29 remained. A subgroup analysis was carried out on studies that had a sample size of five or above, were not only looking at a particular type of eye injury and that had sufficient data to allow the percentage of eye injuries that occurred when no eyewear was worn to be calculated. From this analysis, the median percentage of eye injuries that occurred when no eyewear was worn was found to be 93%. Some of these injuries were serious and required complex treatment. Prescription lenses, contact lenses and industrial eyewear made some injuries more severe. In squash and racketball, lensless eye guards were ineffective as the ball could deform on impact, still making contact with the eye. Only eyewear compliant with updated ASTM (or similar) standards was associated with no eye injuries and so provided adequate protection in all four sports.

Although this systematic review only summarizes evidence on injuries requiring hospital treatment, it is recommended that national governing bodies and key decision makers within squash, racketball, tennis and badminton examine the evidence presented and consider extending existing rules or implementing new recommendations and policies on protective eyewear use to reduce eye injury incidence and severity in their sport.