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Eye injuries in ice hockey have occurred in unacceptable frequency. More than 25 professional players have had their careers shortened because of eye injuries. To date, 262 amateur players in Canada have suffered a blinding eye injury. In one season alone (1974/1975), 43 eyes were blinded.
In the early years, the hockey stick caused most of the injuries (75%). As a result, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) introduced new high stick rules in 1975.
Because many blinding injuries were puck-induced and because stick injuries persisted, eye protectors were needed. The early design was unsatisfactory because most protectors would allow a regulation hockey stick blade to penetrate immediately over the eye area. Therefore, a standard for face protectors was required. In 1978, a national standard of Canada, Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Z262.2-M78, was published. Safer protectors were produced and mandated for all CAHA minor hockey players in Canada.
No blinding eye injury has occurred to a player wearing a CSA-certified protector.
CSA Standard Z262.2M90, published in 1990, includes visors. Hopefully, older players who refuse to wear a full-face protector will at least wear a certified visor. No blinding eye injury has been recorded in a player wearing a visor. Visors, however, must be worn properly—perpendicular to the ground, extending to the tip of the nose, and lying within a finger's breadth of the nose tip.
When all players including professionals, major Junior “A,” and oldtimers wear certified protectors, blinding injuries will no longer occur.
ice hockey, eye injuries, hockey eye protectors, standards
Ophthalmologist, Canadian Medical Association, Don Mills, Ontario