Nearly all of the worst eye-related sports injuries have happened in either baseball or hockey. By taking a look at each of the injuries, you may be able to pick out how they may have been prevented and how to avoid similar injuries in the present.
1. Bryan Berard
On March 11, 2000, Toronto Leaf’s defenseman, Bryan Berard took a stick to the face on a slap shot follow-through. He dropped to the ice and was immediately rushed to the hospital. His eye injuries included retinal tear and detachment, and the sclera of his right eye had been severely slashed. He was done for the season, but not for good. The following year he went through multiple surgeries to improve his vision and was fitted with contact lenses that would enable him to have the minimum required league vision score of 20/400. He returned to the ice and went on to win the Masterson Memorial Trophy for his perseverance.
2. Bernie Parent
On February 17, 1979, during a routine play, an opponent’s stick poked through the eyehole of Bernie Parent’s goalie mask. The Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Famer was quickly hospitalized and suffered a complete loss of sight in the right eye for two weeks. Although he eventually recovered, his retina had been badly damaged, and the subsequent visual impairment forced him to retire. After the incident, many NHL teams made the switch from fiberglass to the modern-day cage mask to avoid similar mishaps.
3. Marc Staal
On March 5, 2013, the New York Ranger’s defenseman was hit above his right eye by a deflected slap shot. after collapsing on the ice he was able to skate over to the dressing room. Later in the evening, he visited an ophthalmologist who found his eye injuries included a tear in his retina and an orbital fracture. Although the surgery wasn’t needed, he had to sit the rest of the season out due to facial pain and dizziness. All of this happened because he wasn’t wearing a protective visor, and now he is one of the most vocal advocates for mandatory visor use.
4. Herb Score
On May 7, 1957, Cleveland Indians pitcher Herb Score was struck in the face by a line drive. He was rushed to a hospital and spent three weeks of recovery and treatment on a damaged retina, eye hemorrhaging, and a fractured orbital bone. His vision returned to 20/20 and the following year he was able to return to the mound, but his eye injury seemed to have left a lasting effect on him as his pitching was never the same.
5. Tony Conigliaro
On August 18, 1967, the Boston Red Sox slugger was struck in the face by a pitch. Although wearing a helmet, it did not have the protective flap that current helmets have. His cheekbone was broken, he suffered a dislocated jaw, and had severe damage to his retina. He returned two years later but was forced into early retirement in 1975 due to poor eyesight.
6. Larry Sanders
On February 8, 2014, the Milwaukee Bucks center was accidentally elbowed while attempting to grab a rebound. His eye injury forced him off the court and resulted in multiple fractures to his eye socket. His team was hopeful that surgery would allow him to return early, but he was forced to sit on the bench for the rest of the year due to recovery and eyesight issues.