Eye Injury Prevention

Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Preventing Eye Injuries

More than 1 million people suffer from eye injuries each year in the United States. Ninety percent of these injuries could have been prevented if the individual had been wearing appropriate protective eyewear. Protecting your eyes from injury is one of the most basic things you can do to keep your vision healthy throughout your life.  “Most people are aware of the possible risk of eye injuries, according to Brad Spagnolo, M.D. of the Baltimore Washington Eye Center. “However,” he says, “many don’t take the easiest step of all to prevent 90% of those injuries, which is wearing the proper protective eyewear”. 

If you are not, then you are not alone. According to a recent nationwide survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, only 35% of respondents said they always wear protective eyewear when performing home repairs or maintenance. Even fewer do when playing sports.

Of the injuries reported in the survey, almost half (44.7%) occurred in the home. More than 40% of the injuries were caused by activities such as home repairs, yard work, cleaning and cooking. Over a third of the injuries in the home occurred in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room, or family room.

More than 40% of eye injuries each year are related to sports or recreational activities.

In this survey of eye injuries, 78% of the people were not wearing eye wear of any kind. Of those reported to be wearing some form of eye wear (glasses or contacts) only a little over 5% were wearing safety or sports spectacles. For most repair projects and activities around the home, basic ANSI-approved (American National Standards Institute) protective eyewear will be sufficient. Sports eye protection should meet that sport’s specific requirements. These are usually established and certified by the sport’s governing body and/or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Tips to Prevent Eye Injuries
In the house: when using household chemicals, read instructions and labels carefully, work in a well-ventilated area, and make sure to point spray nozzles away from you. Many chemicals are extremely hazardous and can permanently destroy the surface of your eyes, resulting in blindness.

In the workshop: think about the work you will be doing and wear protective eyewear to shield your eyes from flying fragments, fumes, dust particles, sparks, ultraviolet and infrared radiation, and splashing chemicals. Many objects or substances can fly into your eyes unexpectedly and cause injury.

In the garden: put on protective eyewear before you use a lawn mower, power trimmer or edger and be sure to check for rocks and stones as they can become dangerous projectiles if picked up in these machines. Don’t forget the risk to bystanders (including children and pets) when using these machines.

In the workplace: wear appropriate safety eyewear for your job. Many who suffer eye injuries each day don’t think that they need eye protection so they don’t have appropriate eyewear for the job.

Around the car: battery acid, sparks and debris from damaged or improperly jumpstarted auto batteries can severely damage your eyes. Keep protective goggles in the trunk of your car to use for those emergencies as well as everyday repairs.

Dr. Spagnolo reiterates, “Prevention is the first and most important step in protecting your eyes from injuries, so be sure to protect your eyes with appropriate protective eyewear.” If you do experience an eye injury, seek medical attention promptly. For more on what to do and what not to do if you experience an eye injury, please check out the previous link.