In MMA, eye care is of the utmost importance. During training and fighting, any of the eye’s structures—including the eyelids, lens, and retina—can become injured. With open-fingered gloves and exposed thumbs, it’s not uncommon for fighters to suffer debilitating injures to the eye, which can include:
• RETINAL DETACHMENT
A detachment occurs when the retina, which covers the inside of the posterior chamber of the eye, disconnects from the posterior wall, usually after a blow to the eye. The retina makes up the image seen by the eye and conveys it to the nerve endings. When a detachment occurs, the first signs include seeing black spots or“floaters.” These dark images represent bleeding or hematoma formations, which force the retina to become loose. Emergent treatment is needed to prevent permanent damage after a retinal detachment.
• CONJUNCTIVAL LACERATIONS
The conjunctivae is the clear cover on the anterior eye. Cuts or lacerations to the conjunctivae—mainly due to eye pokes—may cause infections and scarring. A scarto the conjunctivae limits vision (acuity). Urgent evaluation by a physician is needed to detect and treat a laceration.
• SUBCONJUNCTIVAL HEMORRHAGE
Small blood vessels or capillaries under the conjunctivae supply blood flow to the outer structures of the eye. Sometimes increased pressure or trauma can cause bleeding underneath the conjunctivae. This is seen as a blood stain on the eye. This injury does not cause any vision loss and treatment usually consists of eye drops.
• EYELID LESIONS
Constant sparing may cause injuries to the eyelids. Lesions may include lacerations and hematomas, which can cause swelling, pain, and limited eye vision due to eyelid closure. Eyelid lesions require suturing for open wounds and ice for swelling.
EYE CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW
To keep your peepers safe when training, keep in mind the following tips:
• Use lubricating eye drops after practice to keep your eyes from becoming dry.
• If a poke occurs or debris enters the eye, flush your eye thoroughly with eye drops and inspect the area. If bleeding is noted, seek an emergency evaluation.
• If you have problems focusing or see dark spots or lights, see an ophthalmologist immediately.
• For eyelid swelling after trauma, cover the eye with ice and use lubricating eye drops.
• Schedule a yearly eye exam.