What To Do When Tennis Ball Hits Eye?

What’s the worst injury you have ever had in a sport?

I used to do trampolining and managed to land on my tailbone. I have come across horror stories from cricket matches where people have died.

When you think of tennis, it’s not considered a hazardous sport. But nevertheless, the risk for injury is there.

A nasty injury I sometimes see is players getting hit in the eye. But what should you do if you get hit in the eye?

If you get hit in the eye with a tennis ball, you should hold an ice pack against it but without applying pressure. You should also avoid lying down to minimize swelling. If you have pain or your vision is affected, seek medical help.

In this article I will be covering:

  • First aid procedure when hit in the eye with a tennis ball
  • What not to do after you have been injured
  • What do if your vision goes blurry after being hit

I hope that you won’t get hit in the eye. But if you do, this article will give you the main information you need to deal with it.

What Is First Aid When Hit By Ball?

eye injury, male with black eye

If the injury is severe, you may require professional help. On the other hand, it may not be severe enough to go to the Emergency Room. Still, it won’t do any harm to administer basic first aid.

A tennis ball to the eye is considered an impact injury. An impact injury is a damage caused by the body colliding with an object.

The object could be stationary or, in this case, moving.

For minor eye injuries there are three main methods of first aid treatment.

  • Using an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling
  • Flushing the eyes to remove irritants and reduce the risk of infection
  • Wearing an eye patch to let the eye rest while it heals

The primary purpose of using an ice pack is to reduce swelling. Therefore, it’s a good idea to put a cloth or flannel around the ice pack before applying it to the injured area.

Applying ice directly to the eye can lead to frostbite.

Placing ice directly on the skin can cause ice crystals to form in the skin cells. This will then slow the blood flow, reducing oxygen getting to the tissues.

If you’re playing on clay, the ball will almost certainly have some dust on it. As the ball struck your eye, there is a chance you will have gotten some clay inside.

Even if you’re not playing on clay, it is still good practice to flush the eye to be on the safe side.

You never know what sort of dirt has gotten stuck to the ball.

Most first aid kits will come with eye cleansing spray or eyewash (Amazon).

If you don’t have cleaning spray or eyewash, there is an alternative.

The easiest way to do this is to stand in the shower making sure the water is lukewarm but not hot. If you can adjust the water pressure, do so.

It will not do any good if you twist the showerhead to the max pressure setting.

While in the shower, don’t tilt your head back into the water. Instead, stand in a position with your eyes open that allows the water to gently flow into the eyes.

Do this for up to 15 minutes. Then, stop every few minutes to check if the eyes have been appropriately flushed.

Using an eye patch is also an option. When you wear an eye patch, it will allow the eye to rest. It will also reduce the chance of infection by preventing any other foreign objects from going into the eye.

What You Shouldn’t Do After The Injury

man rubbing his eyes

You mustn’t rub or apply pressure to the eye. If you put pressure on your eye straight after an impact injury, it can lead to impaired vision.

On top of this, it can also exacerbate the irritation.

In the age of covid, we have all learned that we shouldn’t touch our face unnecessarily. Covid or not, it’s a good idea to avoid touching the eye unless you have a good reason to.

Touching or rubbing the eye in any instance can lead to infection.

If the eye has just been injured and potentially infected, touching is just going to make it worse. Also, if you’ve not washed your hands, you could have bacteria on them.

When you touch the eyes, you further spread that bacteria and increase the risk of infection.

I mentioned earlier the risk of frostbite if you apply ice directly to the wound. You should thus avoid putting ice directly on the eye after impact.

If you are experiencing prolonged pain or blurred vision, you should not hesitate to contact a medical professional.

Why Is My Vision Blurry After The Hit?

Blurred Tree Branch

A common reaction to getting hit in the eye with a tennis ball is blurry vision. This is because blunt trauma to the eye causes its pressure to rise momentarily.

This can lead to a series of conditions that temporarily impair vision.

In more extreme cases, blood vessels in the anterior (frontal) eye will rupture, causing a slight bleed in the anterior chamber.

The anterior chamber is the chamber between the cornea and the lens.

The cornea refers to the outer layer at the front of the eye. The cornea helps your eye to focus light. This allows you to see more clearly.

The lens of the eye has only one purpose. That purpose is to focus light rays onto the retina.

After experiencing bleeding in the anterior chamber, it will most often wear off within a couple of hours. This thus makes the vision clear again.

In many cases, the increased pressure from being hit with a tennis ball causes a shock to the optic nerve.

This shock makes the vision blurry for a few seconds or minutes.

The previous example is comparable to hitting your elbow and getting an uncomfortable tingling sensation in your arm and hand.

Final Words

Getting hit in the eye with a tennis ball is not a common injury in tennis. However, it is definitely a risk you should consider.

This is especially true if you are playing doubles.

Standing close to the net when your partner is serving may help you take the ball earlier. But it also increases the risk of you getting hit as you have less time to respond.

I’ve only ever been hit in the eye twice with a tennis ball, and I spend roughly 6 hours on the court every day.

Fortunately, it was not severe either the first or the second time.

Perhaps you have never been hit in the eye with a tennis ball.

I hope it never happens to you, but you now know exactly what you need to do should it occur.