Preventing Eye Injuries

Overview

Any activity where something is flying at the eye puts the eye at risk for an injury. Over one million people suffer eye injuries each year in the United States. Almost 50% of these accidents occur at home and over 90% of them could have been prevented. Minor injuries to the cornea, the clear, protective covering over the front of the eye, can be quite painful. A corneal abrasion is a scratch. Appropriate treatment may include an antibiotic drop or ointment and an eye patch for comfort. Sometimes, your ophthalmologist may use a bandage contact lens to protect the damaged cornea while it heals. Sand or other particles can stick to the cornea. Such foreign bodies (FB) may be removed by your ophthalmologist with fine forceps. If a metallic foreign body is embedded in your cornea causing a rust ring, your doctor may need to use a special fine precision instrument to remove the FB along with the rust ring. Do not rub the eye as it will cause the FB to migrate further into the tissue.

Regular prescription glasses or contact lenses do not protect the eyes from injury. Some glasses and some types of contact lenses shatter if the eye is hit. People who play sports and wear prescription glasses can have special glasses or prescription goggles made. Unfortunately, many people do not take appropriate precautions.

Risk Factors

The majority of eye injuries are easily prevented. Follow safety precautions and use common sense to reduce the risk.

  • Wear safety goggles when using powerful chemicals. Goggles should fit properly to prevent chemicals from getting under them but should allow air to circulate between the eye and the lens.

  • Polycarbonate sports goggles are recommended for all participants of high-impact sports or activities with a high risk of eye injury.

  • Never use fireworks. Attend public fireworks displays instead of using fireworks at home. Amateur backyard displays are dangerous to the person lighting the fireworks, nearby family members, friends, and neighbors.

  • Supervise children when they are handling potentially dangerous items, such as pencils, scissors, and penknives. Be aware that even everyday household items such as paper clips, elastic cords, wire coat hangers, rubber bands, and fishhooks can cause serious eye injury.

  • Avoid projectile toys such as darts and bows and arrows. Do not allow children to play with air-powered rifles, pellet guns, and BB guns. They are extremely dangerous and have been reclassified as firearms and removed from toy departments.

  • Wear eye protection while mowing the lawn or using a weed eater. Stones and debris thrown from moving blades can cause severe eye injuries.

  • Always check to make sure any spray nozzle faces away from the face.

  • Use grease shields to cover frying pans and protect eyes from splattering liquids.

 

  • Wear opaque eyeglasses or goggles to shield your eyes and block UV light in tanning booths.

 

  • Read instructions before using tools, chemicals, ammonia, etc.

  • Be sure you read the instructions while jump-starting a car. Attach the negative ground of the dead battery last. This cable should be attached to the engine block away from the dead battery terminal. Never attach a cable to the negative terminal of the dead battery.

  • Never use a match or lighter to look under the hood of a car.

 

When an eye injury does occur, have an ophthalmologist (eye physician and surgeon), or other medical doctors examine the eye as soon as possible. Although the injury may not look or feel serious, it could cause serious damage to your eyes. If you have blurred vision, partial loss of vision, double vision, or sharp pains in your eye after an accident, see an ophthalmologist or go to a hospital emergency room right away.

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