- NBC News correspondent Savannah Sellers suffered an eye injury from a resistance-band workout.
- One study suggests such injuries, which can lead to permanent vision loss, are on the rise during the pandemic.
- Wearing goggles can help keep your eyes safe. If you get hurt, call your eye doctor or visit an emergency eye centre immediately.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
NBC News correspondent Savannah Sellers was working out at home when suddenly her vision went black and her head began to throb.
“I thought that something maybe fell from above on me,” the Morning News NOW co-anchor told Today on January 22. “I was just completely disoriented. I don’t even know what really happened, but it was just so forceful.”
What really happened was her exercise band hit her in the left eye, causing damage to multiple areas of her eyeball, including the retina, chloroid (the layer between the retina and sclera), and the ciliary muscle in the eye’s middle layer .
The full extent of Sellers’ injury is still unclear due to swelling, and she may need laser surgery to repair tears, Today reported.
Still, Sellers said had her head been tilted just “one more centimeter down,” she could have completely lost her vision, so she is grateful that he doctors say that possibility is slim.
“I know it’s not as bad as it could be, and the hope is that on its own, my vision will return after the swelling goes down,” Sellers told Today. “My doctor does have faith that I will go completely back to normal. So I’m just trying to focus on that.”
While resistance-band related eye injuries are unusual, they may be on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic when more people are working out at home.
One eye centre saw 11 resistance-band-related injuries between March and September 2020
A December study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that, between March 2020 and September 2020, 11 people showed up to the emergency room at the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute with resistance-band related eye injuries.
That’s the most ever recorded in research, according to the authors.
“It’s not like people are flying in with these injuries,” Dr. Jose Torradas, an emergency medicine physician near Philadelphia who was not involved in the research, told Insider. But they’re not exactly “freak accidents,” as Sellers’ described, either.
In the study, eight patients had an injury in one eye, and three had injuries in both. All of them had iritis, or inflammation of the iris; nine had hyphema, or a pooling of blood in the front chamber of the eye; and four had vitreous hemorrhage, or bleeding into the back part of the eye.
On average, their vision was 20/100 â€” meaning they’d need to be 20 feet away to see what someone with normal vision can see at 100 feet â€” and improved to 40/100 at the average follow-up time of 4.7 weeks.
All patients received topical treatments like eye drops, and one needed surgery for a macular hole. It’s unclear how many will sustain long-term vision deficits.
Goggles and proper storage can help prevent eye injuries
The authors recommend wearing goggles while using resistance bands to keep your eyes safe.
Torradas, a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians, said storing your bands properly can make a difference too. For example, using one that’s been in a cold garage can make it prone to snapping.
Unlike dumbbells, which are more likely to cause fractures to delicate bones like those in the cheeks, “the bands can be so small that if they snap in just the right direction, they’re small enough to hit you in the eye,” he said.
If you do hurt your eye from a band or something else, call your eye doctor right away. If there’s an eye centre or hospital that deals with eye-related emergencies in your community, calling or visiting it immediately is another good option.
“A lot of ERs don’t have all the best equipment to be able to fully evaluate an injured eye, so try to see if there are specialised options first,” Torradas recommended. If there aren’t, your local ER should at least be able to any pain and offer a topical ointment before connecting you to a specialist if necessary.