Friday, 16 September 2011

Olympic Countdown - Boxing

If someone is trying to punch someone else in the face, it shouldn’t be a surprise that eye injuries are quite a common result, even with head guards. The most serious injuries are when damage to the retina occurs. Tears can lead to detachments and a lot of vision can be lost. Sugar Ray Leonard is one of the highest profile boxers who were forced to retire as a result of a detached retina. But trauma to the front of the eye can disrupt the drainage system of the fluid within the eye. Pressure can build up and the nerves at the back of the eye can get damaged in a form of glaucoma. Cataracts can also form at a much younger age than normal. Eye damage like this is especially likely if the trauma is caused by the thumb, as it fits neatly inside the eye socket. Modern gloves have the thumb strapped to the rest of the glove, but this still leaves part of the thumb protruding. Bianco et al (2004) studied over a thousand boxers, amateur and professional. 40.9% were found to have mild or moderate signs of eye damage, with 5.6% having serious eye problems. This compared with 3.1% of non-boxers who were found to have similar-looking eye problems. One idea to try and combat the problem was the invention of “thumbless” gloves. Unfortunately, they didn’t prove popular with boxers as it didn’t feel as if they were forming a proper fist. This could result in more hand injuries. Recently, however, a solution may have been found in the invention of the “hidden thumb” glove. A strap inside the glove enables a fist to be formed internally, but nothing sticks out externally. Let’s hope it catches on. David Donner