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Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Squash players fail to protect eyes
Professional squash match
Even the professionals fail to take precautions
Fewer than one in 10 squash players adequately protects their eyes during play - despite the high risk of severe injury.

A squash ball can travel at speeds of over 200 km an hour, which, combined with the small confines of the court, has ranked the sport among the riskiest for eye injury.

An estimated 15 million people around the world play squash.


it is a very strange feeling to wear something when you have grown up without it

Tim Garner
Researchers from Monash University in Australia surveyed over 300 adult players at three squash court venues about their use of protective eye gear.

The average age was around 40. Two thirds of the players were men, and over two thirds had been playing the sport for 10 years or more.

Fewer than one in five men (19%) used protective eye wear at all and less than half of those who did so wore eye wear conforming to nationally approved safety standards and containing polycarbonate lenses.

The remainder wore prescription lenses, liable to shatter on impact, or eye guards, which do not afford adequate protection.

Older players and those with more years of play were more likely to use protective eye wear, as were women, the survey showed.

Among those players opting for eye protection, one in three said they did so because they recognised the injury risks associated with the sport, and one in two said previous experience of an eye injury either to themselves or a friend had motivated them.

But among those not wearing eye protection, over a third complained that it restricted their vision during play, and one in four said it was too uncomfortable, even though most had not actually tried it.

Almost four out of 10 simply did not want to protect their eyes during play, and over 13% said they had never thought about it.

UK initiative

Tim Garner, of the British Squash Professionals Association, told BBC News Online that there was an initiative in the UK to make it compulsory for juniors to wear protective eye guards.

"Hopefully, as they move into the senior game they will persist with this having grown accustomed to the eyewear.

"However, it is unsurprising that adults who have never worn eyewear do not embrace the idea, despite the obvious risks, as it is a very strange feeling to wear something when you have grown up without it."

Mr Garner said there are very few instances of eye injuries in the professional game, as the skill level and court craft is such that it is rare for a ball or racket to strike someone in the face.

The research is published in the journal Injury Prevention.

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26 Mar 01 | Health
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