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Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe

Most hurt by other children wielding club while playing away from course, study says

MONDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Although rare, golf-related eye injures in children can be devastating, says a U.S. study.

The researchers looked at six boys and five girls, average age 10.2 years, treated at two institutions over 15 years.

"Ten patients (91 percent) were injured by golf clubs and one patient (9 percent) by a golf ball," wrote Dr. Eric M. Hink, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, and colleagues.

The injuries suffered by the children included orbital fracture (a break in the bones forming the eye socket) in 11 eyes, blood in the eye in four eyes, and damage to the optic nerve in three eyes.

"At the initial examination, visual acuity was 20/20 in four eyes (36 percent), 20/25 to 20/80 in three eyes (27 percent), no light perception in three eyes (27 percent) and undeterminable in one eye (9 percent) because of altered mental status," the study authors wrote.

Nine (82 percent) of the children required surgery. At the final follow-up visit (average of one year), two eyes (18 percent) had no light perception, visual acuity was 20/70 in one eye (9 percent) and 20/20 or better in eight eyes (73 percent).

The study was published in the September issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Only one of the injuries actually occurred on a golf course during supervised play, said the researchers, who noted that most "children are injured by other children wielding a golf club while at play away from the golf course."

"Increased public awareness may help to decrease morbidity from golf-related ophthalmic injuries to children," the study authors concluded. "We recommend close adult supervision, adequate separation between children and protective eyewear for children learning to play golf. Furthermore, and most critically, golf equipment should be stored in a secure area away from children. Children should be taught that golf equipment should never be used without supervision. The efforts of ophthalmologists to prevent eye injures in other sports, notably hockey and baseball, have been successful and should serve as models to prevent golf-related ocular injuries in the pediatric population."

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Prevent Blindness America has more about children and eye safety.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Sept. 8, 2008

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