India goalkeeper Baljit Singh faces an uncertain future after being hit on the eye during training, as the doctors treating him were non-committal on whether the 28-year-old would regain normal vision.
Baljit suffered a global rupture during the special training drill with a golf ball under the supervision of goalkeeping coach Romeo James at the national camp at Balewadi in Pune on Friday.
The golf ball - which is roughly one-fourth the size of a hockey ball - is used to improve the reflexes of goalkeepers. The drill has been followed in the national camp for the last eight months. The mishap occurred on Friday evening, when a golf ball went through the helmet's visor and hit Baljit on the right eye as he trained for the European tour. He was flown to the Capital on Saturday morning for an emergency operation at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
“We have done our best to restrict the damage. But the eye is badly damaged. We have cleaned the wound and are hoping for the best. But the chances (of him regaining vision) are very grim,” said Dr Sudershan Khokhar, the specialist who operated on the Indian Oil employee.
The global rupture has damaged the retina, cornea and lens and Baljit could need multiple surgeries. Hockey India secretary, Mohd Aslam said: “Baljit will be having multiple surgeries considering the magnitude of the injury. The cornea has been operated and the operation was successful. The doctors will be keeping him under observation for some days and then examine the retina.
“After an ultrasonograph in Pune it was determined that an emergency operation was necessary,” he added. PR Sreejesh, the U-22 goalkeeper will replace him.