The popularity of paintball continues to increase, despite its potential to cause serious eye injuries. It is important to always wear eye protection when on or near where paintball is being played.
Short of death, blindness is clearly the worst injury paintball can cause. Although in most cases the eye might be able to be operated on, some injuries are so severe that surgery is not possible.
When a paintball shot comes into direct contact with a person’s eye, the damage can fall into a range of severity. A lens subluxation, which occurs when a paintball strikes a closed eyed, is a partial dislocation of the lens directly behind the pupil of the eye. This eye injury can be operated on by way of a cataract extraction, in which the natural lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic lens to restore the transparency.
When a paintball strikes the eye, it has the potential to damage different fluid sacks, such as the tear ducts. An angle recession is when the eye experiences trauma resulting in an abnormal elevation of pressure inside of the eye because of the leakage of fluid. This eye injury can severely damage optic nerves and affect the ability to produce a proper amount of eye fluid. It can be operated on through either laser surgery or incisional surgery.
Eye ruptures can occur if a paintball grazes the eye or even if a piece of a paintball comes into contact with the surface of the eye. An eye rupture is when a blood vessel becomes damaged from a clot, which causes added pressure on the affected vessel, resulting in the break. Eye ruptures tend not to be as serious as other eye injuries. This eye injury can either be surgically repaired or naturally repaired, which takes about two to three weeks to fully heal.
Detached retinas are caused when a paintball strikes the eye, whether opened or closed, and forces the eye to be pushed out of place due to the sudden blunt force trauma. A detached retina is when the retina in the back of the eye becomes separated from the optic nerve, causing severe blurriness. If this eye injury is not treated, it will usually lead to blindness. A detached retina can be treated by either laser surgery or cryotherapy, which is when the retina is frozen back into place to the eye wall.