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Tuesday, 7 December, 1999, 02:25 GMT
Paintballing 'causes eye injuries'
Paintball Protective goggles are essential for paintballing


Paintballers may only fake death when they have been "shot" - but the eye injuries they can suffer are far from imaginary.

The journal Injury Prevention reports that the growing popularity of paintballing is leading to an increase in severe eye damage.

Eye injuries caused by paintballing
Black eye
Corneal abrasions and cuts
Haemorrhaging of the vitreous, which contains the eyeball fluid
Retinal detachment
Glaucoma, or increased pressure in the eye
Paintballing was first introduced in 1981 and is now played in over 40 countries as a wargame.

The study centres on reports of injuries at the Indiana Academy of Ophthalmology.

Prior to 1996 the clinic registered no reports of injury associated with paintballing.

But by 1998, injuries associated with the game accounted for 4% of the clinic's workload.

In all cases eyesight was severely affected. Bleeding and swelling were the most common types of injury.

Four people required immediate surgery, and in two cases damage to eyesight was permanent.

Only two of those injured were wearing eyewear of any kind and none was wearing protective safety masks or goggles.

One man had removed his facemask to clean it when he was hit.

Paintballs are shot from compressed air or gas rifles and travel at considerable speed.

Chemicals and dyes

They contain water, various chemicals, and dyes within a gelatine or latex coat, and are designed to rupture on impact, but they have the force of a blunt instrument, say the authors.

They call for all paintball games to be supervised, and for adequate eye protection to be worn at all times.

Edmund McMahon-Turner, spokesman for Moorfields Eye Hospital, said cases of eye injuries caused by paintballing dealt with by the hospital were rare, but increasing.

He said doctors were concerned that protective goggles were often designed for adults, and therefore did not properly fit children.

Dan Chase, operations manager for Bullswood Skirmish, a paintballing park in Surrey, said players were encouraged to wear safety goggles at all times and the site had an unblemished record for eye injuries.

But he said the game was not governed as tightly as it could be and that safety standards varied between operators.

He said: "The majority are good to excellent, but there are some cowboys who charge very cheap rates and whose safety standards may or may not be up to scratch."

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See also:
16 Aug 99 |  Health
Drug hope to beat blindness
31 May 99 |  Health
Drive to promote eye tests
23 Apr 99 |  Health
The flies that blind

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