It’s a frightening statistic - over 2.4 million Americans suffer an eye injury each year. Some of these injuries are minor inconveniences, while others can be painful, disfiguring and may even cause blindness. The most common eye injuries are caused by foreign bodies in the eye, at 35% of the total. Contusions and open wounds each represent 25% of injuries, and the remaining 15% are burns. Most people don’t think about the dozens of ways their eyes can be injured, and what the eventual outcome of an injury could be. Take a few moments to read this important piece – it may end up saving your vision one day!
On average, 800,000 eye injuries occur in the workplace every year. 36,000 of these people need to take time off from work to allow their injuries to heal. Most workplace eye injuries fall into one of four categories:
- Chemical Burns
- Puncture Wounds
While anyone can sustain an eye injury at work, the most common victims are production, transportation and service industry workers. 10% to 20% of these injuries result in temporary or permanent vision loss. But here’s the good news - 90% of workplace eye injuries can be prevented by following these important guidelines.
- Learn about eye safety hazards at work and complete an eye hazard assessment.
- If eye hazards exist in your workplace, be sure to wear safety glasses or goggles at all times.
- Only use safety goggles or glasses marked “ANSI Z87.”
- Know the exact location of the nearest eye wash station and learn how to use it.
- Tell your company’s safety officer, HR Manager or CEO about any eye safety hazards in the workplace.
- Get an annual vison exam – you’ll know if your eyes can function at a safe level for the job you do.
- If you have reduced vision, ask if prescription glasses or goggles are available.
Injuries at Home
The most common injuries to the eye at home stem from cooking, cleaning, home improvement and falls. When cooking, watch out for “hot stuff”! This includes preparing food with hot oil or grease, which can splash into your face and cause burns, and handling spicy food or seasonings and touching your eye before washing your hands. Use splash shields on your pots and pans and consider wearing eye protection when grease is flying. Wash your hands frequently and wear gloves when working with spicy food.
Cleaning products are notorious for producing clouds of toxic gas when mixed inappropriately, and some cleaners are caustic in and of themselves. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before using all cleaners and follow them to the letter. Never mix cleaning products together, and be sure to wear safety goggles to prevent damage from atmospheric fumes. Always use gloves when handling household chemicals, and avoid touching your eyes.
Home improvement tasks are also best performed wearing goggles or safety glasses. Flying bits of debris from saws, sanders, drill bits, hatchets and chainsaws can be hazardous. And don’t forget the lawnmower…items hiding in the grass, pieces of bark and wood and other debris can easily fly long distances through the air. Take care when using pool chemicals, pesticides and most of the products stashed in your garage as well!
Trip and fall accidents cause many eye injuries, including scratches, cuts, puncture wounds, abrasions and “black eyes”. To keep family members safe from these potential vision stealers, use these simple suggestions:
- Stash clutter away, to reduce tripping risk.
- Secure all rugs to the floor with non-skid tape or tacks.
- Make sure your staircases have handrails and all hallways have nightlights.
- Place guards on sharp cornered furniture and counters.
And ladies…be careful using cosmetics, tweezers, mascara or hair dye during your beauty routines. These tools for putting your best face forward can cause lifelong damage to your eyes. Make sure you have plenty of light, ventilation and a steady hand when applying or using these products, and check expiration dates on cosmetics to ensure freshness. Never use hair dye on your eyebrows or eyelashes.
Sports and Playtime Injuries
A key point for sports…any sport featuring a ball, puck, stick, bat, racket or flying object is a potential risk of eye injury. Make sure to use protective eyewear marked ASTM F803-approved. These pieces meet consumer product standards set by ASTM International. Don’t wear regular sunglasses or goggles designed for other uses for sports. They aren’t designed to combat impact and may do more harm than if you skipped protective eyewear altogether. Make sure your children get a comprehensive vision test before signing up for sports to make sure their vision is up to the task.
Don’t let your children play with projectile toys such as air rifles, bb-guns, darts, bow and arrow sets or missile-firing toys. It’s also a good idea to ban laser pointers, as the beams can permanently damage the retina and cause visual loss in as quickly as a few seconds.
Although it’s tempting to set off your own fireworks, this is a task best left to professionals. Thousands of people yearly suffer serious eye injuries working with backyard fireworks. And be sure to tip your champagne corks as far away from people (especially their faces!) when opening a bottle! Place your palm over the cork while removing the wire hood. Use a towel to cover the entire top of the bottle, grasp the cork, hold it firmly and twist the bottle until the cork is almost free. Keep your downward pressure on the cork as it comes out of the bottle to prevent it from launching into the room.
However they happen, it’s essential to visit your optometrist right away when you suffer eye injuries. Only a trained, qualified eye doctor can assess and treat your injury to ensure the best possible result. Reach out to the team at Pro-Optix Eye Care at 713-360-7095 as soon as you need us – our Houston eye doctors are here for you!