Gulfport Boy Suffers Paintball Eye Injury

A ten year old Gulfport boy is recovering from a serious eye injury he received while playing paintball.

And he's not the only one. The growing popularity of the sport is becoming all too evident in hospital emergency rooms.

The American Academy of Pediatrics featured an article about paintball eye injuries in its latest magazine. Emergency rooms treated an estimated 545 paintball eye injuries in 1998. By the year 2000, that number had jumped to twelve hundred.

But with the proper safety equipment, such injuries can easily be prevented.

Ten year old Tyler Hosli says it felt like fire in his eye when he was hit by a paintball two days after Christmas. He was wearing goggles, but they were too big and fell off his face for just a few seconds.'

"I thought I was going to be blind. I kept asking them, was I going to be blind? Was I going to be blind? They said, no, no! We just got to get you to the house and wipe the paint from your eye," said the fourth grader.

"His eye was full of blood. He couldn't see out of it. And I brought him to the hospital and they had to call an eye surgeon in," said his father, Terry.

CO2 powered guns shoot the paint filled pellets at up to 300 feet per second.

"I wear goggles all the time. I have both my eyes. I have no ear problems," said Gerwin Henn.

Henn is a champion paintball competitor who is serious about his sport and even more serious about safety.

"This is probably the most important piece of equipment. You cannot even play paintball unless you have these," he said, pointing to the eye protection in his Ocean Springs paintball shop.

Goggles and helmets are built especially for the sport. Special gloves, knee pads and elbow pads offer even more protection.

"It's suitable for all ages for the most part. Provided the safety equipment fits them properly," said Henn.

Will Tyler Hosli play the sport again?

"Well, if I have the protection and gear and stuff I will But if I don't, uh uh."