Breakers player Akil Mitchell's eye injury healing, will return to courts with goggles

By Sarah Harris

The Breakers' star import whose eye popped out of its socket in an horrific on-court injury will hit the playing arena again in coming weeks - but this time with goggles.

Akil Mitchell was poked in the left eye during a game against Cairns last month, leaving his eye-ball outside of the socket.

He said he still hadn't managed to watch the video where he gets injured.

While the 24-year-old hopes to make a full recovery within three weeks he said he will wear goggles when he starts playing to protect his "big eyes".

"It shouldn't be a recurring issue but I'll probably wear goggles until I feel comfortable without them," he told the Herald on Sunday from his US base.

"[The video] just makes me squeamish [and] I don't think I'd be able to watch it if it wasn't me. I know how it felt."

Mitchell initially spent two weeks in Auckland getting treatment for the horror injury.

But he then flew home to visit eye specialists in his hometown of North Carolina.

He said his doctor found he was using the wrong medication which is why his eye was getting worse. He also has a large cut on the eye ball that is still healing.

"I've been feeling a lot better since I switched medication," he said.

"It was getting swollen and beginning to hurt and burn a lot. Which is worrisome especially after the first few days when I was doing better."

Mitchell's doctor told him he should make a full recovery in two or three weeks. He has another check up next week.

Once he has been given the all clear Mitchell will play in the Development League for the Long Islands Nets in New York.

Akil Mitchell was helped off the court by his team during the round 17 NBL match between the NZ Breakers and the Cairns Taipans. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES
Akil Mitchell was helped off the court by his team during the round 17 NBL match between the NZ Breakers and the Cairns Taipans. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

Mitchell said his family freaked out when they heard about the incident. His dad got a phone call in the middle of the night.

"That was a really scary call, they didn't know if I'd ever be able to see again. They didn't know what was going on."

The injury abruptly curtailed what was shaping as one of Mitchell's best games in an impressive first season with the Breakers, having scored 13 points and added 10 rebounds in 18 energetic minutes.

Mitchell is gutted he missed the last game of the season. He hasn't signed another contract with the Breakers yet so doesn't know if he will be returning to New Zealand.

"I really like New Zealand. I really enjoyed playing with the Breakers but it's all about opportunities.

"If it works out I'd love to come back."

Mitchell's health insurance covered his medical expenses for the injury but if it had disabled him from playing for a long time he did not believe he would get any compensation for lost wages.

"That's all a part of the worker's hazard. It's a part of the job."

- Herald on Sunday

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