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Ophthalmology. 1992 Jun;99(6):867-72.

Shotgun eye injuries. Ocular risk and eye protection efficacy.

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United States Army Aeromedical Center, Ft. Rucker, AL.



Little is known about the efficacy of shotgun eye protection. Shotguns can easily propel pellets with enough energy to penetrate the human eye, and a large percentage of shotgun eye injuries occur during shotgun sports such as hunting, trap, skeet, and sporting clays. Many of these injuries are preventable with proper eye protection. Although it is known that polycarbonate is the best lens material for shotgun eye protection, there has been no research that addresses the vision protective system design and its influence on eye protection.


A field study was performed during which shotshells were fired at 1:1 scale photographs of human faces to determine the risk of ocular trauma. The protective efficacy of three types of polycarbonate protective eye wear (standard industrial safety glasses with snap-on side shields, wrap-around racket sport glasses, and three-piece glasses with integral side shields) was tested by firing shotshells at them at various distances. Both frontal and side protection was evaluated.


Results showed that the eye is at a high risk (55% to 100%) of being hit with shot pellets at ranges of 15 to 40 yards. It also was determined that the protective eye wear will give good frontal eye protection from shotgun pellets but integral side shields and a headband are necessary to obtain adequate side protection.


These findings, coupled with the poor visual prognosis of ocular shotgun injuries, indicate that polycarbonate protective eye wear with integral side shields and headbands should be worn by all involved with shotgun sports.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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