Paintball Damages Teen's Eyes

by Michelle Mortensen

Paintball is a popular East Texas sport, but it’s also a dangerous one. According to a recent study in Pediatrics Magazine, paintball eye injuries in children have more than doubled in just three years. One East Texas teen learned that the hard way and now wants to let all kids know just how dangerous paintball can be.

Thirteen-year-old David Fry loves science class, especially when he gets to dissect things like an earthworm. But focusing on his schoolwork isn't always easy. The worm, his notes, even his teacher, all look a little fuzzy. David has an eye injury he got from a paintball gun.

A few months ago, David and his friends were playing with paintball guns, but the innocent game soon turned dangerous.

"I was going to sneak around to shoot some of my friends," David says. "And I went around, and they called a time out. I took my mask off cause it was all foggy and they called time in. I forgot to put my mask down and they turned around and shot me."

They shot him right in the eye.

"It was pretty scary. I couldn't see. I just felt the pain," he explains.

Rushed to the emergency room, he learned his retina had detached from his eye.

"That is the most awful disaster that could happen to an eye," says Dr. Ali Vagafi. "If the detachment is not repaired, you lose sight. You can go totally blind."

Dr. Ali Vagafi worked quickly to reattach his retina. The surgery was a success. Dr. Vagafi says David is lucky.

"The majority of people with a paintball injury will end up having some visual trouble, and quite a number of them are legally blind," says Dr. Vagafi.

Today, David's vision is only slightly impaired. He can still do his schoolwork, but his dream of one day being a pilot may be gone forever. He just hopes others understand how dangerous paint ball can be.