Airsoft Eye Injury: Hyphema

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WE ENCOUNTERED a new word last month after playing at an airsoft tournament. The word was HYPHEMA.

It’s a medical term that airsofters should get familiar with… and avoid like the plague.

Hyphema is a condition where blood collects in the eye (at the bottom of the iris or in the cornea) due to trauma, which in our sport is a 0.20 gram plastic bb right in the eye.

According to the doctors and eye specialists who attended to our unlucky team mate, hyphema may result to blindness or “Permanent visual impairment,” to quote their exact words.

Luckily for our injured comrade, hyphema can also resolve by itself. The doctors were unsure at first whether he needed eye surgery or not. However, they opted to observe for a couple of days to see if the hyphema would resolve by itself—which it did (thankfully).

The injury was sustained when our team mate was walking towards the “war zone” when one of the tournament umpires/marshals opened the protective net to allow a “dead” player (and a hail of stray bbs) out.

One stray bb managed to find his eye (and boom!) he was left in an immediate need of medical attention.

The incident occurred at the “Airsoft Supremacy 3rd Chapter” Northern Mindanao FAS Eliminations tournament held in Camp Bivouac, Mountain Pines, Bukidnon, Philippines last April 16-17, 2011. It was a FAS-sanctioned tournament.

The tournament was hosted by Team SAG of Cagayan de Oro—an airsoft team that demonstrated an indifference that bordered on a complete disregard for the safety of the teams they invited to play in their expensive tournament.

FAS, by the way, is Filipino Airsoft—an airsoft body that “sanctions” tournaments in the Philippines. We put that word in quotation as they really appear to be just a bunch of guys running a website, and having tournaments held in their name without giving a hoot about rules and regulations, and the observance of safety in the sport.

To prove that we are just telling the truth about the attitude of FAS and team SAG of CDO, visit this FAS forum link:

All this bad attitude and irresponsibility are a reality in the sport of airsoft in the Philippines. People just want to have fun. But when accidents happen, tournament organizers, like SAG CDO, run away.

There is sorely a need for a governing body that monitors and regulates airsoft. One that makes sure the sport is enjoyed safely here in the Philippines.

 If you happen to find yourself playing airsoft in the Philippines, for Christ’s sake, NEVER remove your eye protection even if you were just going to take a piss.

In the event you did remove your goggles or mask and you got hit in the eye by a stray bb that caused you to have hyphema, here are four major tenets regarding treatment taken from Wikipedia:

1. Light activity or even bed rest (to prevent a re-bleed into the anterior chamber, which may cause obstruction of vision, or a painful rise in pressure);

2. Elevation of the head of the bed by approximately 45 degrees (so that the hyphema can settle out inferiorly and avoid obstruction of vision, as well as to facilitate resolution);

3. Wearing of an eye shield at night time (to prevent accidental rubbing of the eyes during sleep, which can precipitate a re-bleed);

4. Avoidance of pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen (which thin the blood and increase the risk of a re-bleed – instead, acetaminophen can be used for pain control).

As to asking assistance from the tournament organizer, there could only be one tenet: DON’T BOTHER.

This is the Philippines.

  1. Djkilabot says:

    I was just thinking of getting into FAS but your article made me think twice. Aside from the expensive gear, i never thought of accidents like this. I think I’ll just play call of duty on Ps3. Yes I will surely miss the fun and excitement of real live action but no thank you, I’ll keep my eye instead.

  2. Photos #1, 3, & 4 courtesy of Merril Sajonia.

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