Eye Shields for NFL Players
Ophthalmology, September 2021
The Academy classifies football as a sport with moderate risk of eye injury and recommends that players wear a polycarbonate visor for eye protection. Despite this guidance, visor use remains optional for players. To assess the value of visors, Dhoot et al. reviewed five seasons of injury reports from the National Football League (NFL) website, which accounts for all 32 teams. They found that eye injuries are more common in players who do not use visors.
The authors looked at reports of injuries occurring in preseason, regular, and playoff games, and searched for terms relating to the eye (e.g., ocular, eye, orbit). Predictors of visor use were established from linear mixed-model regression analysis in which predictive factors had been prespecified. Continuous variables were scaled and centered (to allow for model fit), then transformed to produce adjusted odds ratios for clinical interpretation.
After 250 injury reports were reviewed, the event rate for football-related eye injuries (n = 16) was deemed too low for multilevel regression. Unadjusted analyses showed no significant difference in the incidence of eye injury between players who wore a visor (n = 4) and those who did not (n = 12). Gouges were the most common type of injury (n = 6). Offensive and defensive players were affected equally (n = 8 each). Visors were not worn by any kickers or punters. Of the 9,729 NFL players who participated in at least one regular season game during the study period, 3,049 (31.6%) wore a visor, and most visors were clear. Visor use increased with each season. Visor wear varied by team and ranged from 19.4% to 38.6%.
The fact that visor use has been climbing is encouraging, said the authors. However, many players feel that visors impede their performance. More research is needed to explore concerns about visor wear and to study eye injuries in amateur players, who may not have access to equipment and resources available in the NFL and thus might be susceptible to more severe injuries, said the authors.
The original article can be found here.