Youth Soccer Player Shares Her Sports Eye Injury Story
Eye injuries are not the first type of sports injury that come to mind when you think of getting hurt on the soccer field. But they do happen and can be quite serious.
12-year-old Tessa Pageler, an avid club soccer player with select team Georgetown Force, recently experienced a rare eye injury on the field.
During a typical game where she was playing forward, an errant ball drilled right into her left eye socket causing a traumatic injury that she, nor anyone else, ever saw coming.
The ball caused her eye to swell immediately, and her vision became impaired with a dark spot appearing in her central vision and blurring her periphery.
She was in a great deal of pain, and her mother, Bevyn Pageler, initially thought that she had broken her nose.
“Once we ruled out a broken nose and a concussion, we knew we had to focus on her eye,” recalls Bevyn. “Luckily a friend of ours who is an ophthalmologist was able to see Tessa that evening to properly assess the injury and damage.”
Their friend explained that although visiting an emergency room (ER) for an eye injury is okay, it is usually better to seek attention from an ophthalmologist or retina specialist, especially when normal visual acuity has worsened.
An ophthalmologist or fellowship trained retina specialist has the proper tools and technology to check vision and examine the hard-to-assess spots inside and behind the eye.
The ophthalmologist referred them to Austin Retina Associates and Bevyn was able to schedule an appointment within two hours the following morning with retina specialist C. Armitage Harper, III, MD, who diagnosed Tessa with bruising on her retina, vitreous hemorrhaging (blood in the back of the eye), and iritis (swelling around the pupil).
Dr. Harper recommended frequent monitoring and vision checks, rest and sitting out of soccer and sports for two weeks. The swelling in Tessa’s eye went down fairly quickly in those first few days and her vision has now almost completely returned to her normal acuity of 20/20.
Once she was able to return to the soccer field, Dr. Harper also advised Tessa to refrain from heading the ball for a couple of months to avoid any additional force or trauma that could impact her vision.
Tessa says that although she was nervous to get back to playing, Dr. Harper was great at cheering her on and encouraging her to return to the field.
“I’m so glad he helped me ease my fears and reminded me that this was a rare injury,” says Tessa. “And he said that I should get back out there and have fun,” she adds. “And I am!”
What should you do if you suffer a sports eye injury?
If you experience an eye injury with vision loss and have a regular ophthalmologist or retina specialist that you see, get in touch with them right away or visit the nearest emergency room. Most eye specialists have emergency after-hours phone numbers and physicians on call for injuries.
We love treating our young patient athletes and want nothing more than to see them succeed on and off the field! Special thanks to Tessa and her family for sharing their story.