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Can I Play Sports with a Prosthetic Eye? Outdoor Activities?

By May 3, 2021Prosthetic Eyes
Two men high-fiving and wearing protective goggles to prevent prosthetic eye injury while playing indoor sports.

Can I Still Play Sports and Do Outdoor Activities with a Prosthetic Eye?

Yes, for most sports and outdoor activities, you will be able to continue participating and enjoying the things you love to do, even with a prosthetic eye.

But, there are a few details to take into consideration. And there are a few particular situations you will want to avoid, or be very careful when participating in them.

There are three main risks regarding your artificial eye that you will face every day, regardless of what you’re doing.

  1. Protecting your remaining natural eye
  2. Losing the prosthesis
  3. Damaging the prosthesis and possibly your eye socket as well

With sports and outdoor activities, the risks of any of these things happening may increase, depending on the sport or the activity.

To reduce all these risks when playing sports, the best solution is the same: Use protective eyewear.  Protective eyewear will protect your natural eye, keep your prosthesis from falling out, and protect the prosthesis and your eye socket from any impact and the damage that can cause.

Another solution is to just not wear your prosthetic eye during that activity. Some people also wear an old one, which they won’t mind losing as much.

Let’s look at some specific sports and activities for some real world examples regarding the safety of playing with a prosthetic eye.

Water Sports and Activities

Whether swimming, diving, snorkeling, surfing, water polo, or water skiing, your greatest risk is losing your prosthesis. And if you lose it, especially if you’re in a lake or ocean, you will almost certainly never find it.

Man swimming in a lake with a green skull cap and with protective eyewear swimming goggles to keep his prosthetic eye safe.Most people rub their eyes and faces frequently when participating in water sports and activities, especially when coming out of the water. Rubbing your eye can cause your prosthetic eye to dislodge, and if you’re not careful, it will pop out and sink to the bottom.

With diving, surfing, and water skiing in particular, you also face the likely prospect of high impact situations between your face and the water. In addition to losing the prosthetic eye, the impact also risks damaging your natural eye, and it can cause damage to your eye socket by pushing the prosthesis back with great force.

Even casual boating poses a risk if for any reason you have to remove your prosthesis or accidently dislodge it, such as when you get something in your eye. Regular glasses can work well enough here, because they will remind you to be careful if you try to rub your eyes and will protect your natural eye from any random objects.

For all other water sports and activities with a prosthesis, protective goggles are a must.

Outdoor Sports

There are so many outdoor sports that it’s difficult to lump them all into one category. But the main thing to watch out for is unexpected impact.

Impact can come from balls, arms, fingers, sticks, rackets, grass in the eye, and a variety of other objects and limbs depending on the sport.

You can pretty much play any outdoor sport safely with a prosthetic eye, and even perform at a high level. This includes tennis, rugby, football, soccer, lacrosse, ultimate frisbee, and just about any other sport you can think of.

Child playing on a soccer team and wearing special glasses to protect prosthetic eye from injury.Your biggest risk in outdoor sports is injuring your natural eye. You also risk impacting the prosthesis and injuring your eye socket. Wear protective eyewear, preferably goggles or other glasses that fit snugly on your face, and you should be fine.

Indoor Sports

Playing indoor sports with an artificial eye carries the same risks as outdoor sports. Again, you can perform at a high level and protect your natural eye, your prosthesis, and your eye socket from injury using protective eyewear.

As evidence of how well you can perform, here’s a story of a college basketball star who now plays professional ball overseas, who wears a prosthetic eye.

Outdoor Activities and Recreation

Other recreation activities besides sports entail the same three risks.

Hiking, biking, trail running, mountain climbing, snow skiing, and similar types of activities carry the risk of random tree branches and objects hitting your face unexpectedly. You wouldn’t want one to poke your natural eye and cause any sustained loss of vision. You also wouldn’t want it to push your prosthesis back into your eye socket and cause damage.

While all of life entails some risk, outdoor activities in unpredictable environments, especially where movement and speed are in play, invite extra risk to your remaining natural eye and your artificial eye. You want to protect both while enjoying your life. With protective eyewear, you can. See some eye injury statistics.

The Bottom Line

Put some thought into the risks any sport or activity might pose to your good eye and your prosthesis. In the great majority of situations, you can go ahead and participate in the activity, even something like cliff jumping or skydiving.

Then, do what is reasonable to avoid losing the prosthesis, or causing injury to either eye.