More than one million people per year are affected by an eye injury. Ninety percent of these injuries could have been prevented had the individuals been wearing proper protective eye wear while participating in sports and other recreational activities or performing potentially dangerous tasks around the home and at work.
While many people believe that most eye injuries occur on the job — especially in factories and on construction sites — nearly half of all eye injuries occurred in the home. Home repairs, yard work, cleaning and cooking caused more than 40 percent of eye injuries. More than a third of those injuries in the home happened in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living or family room.
Here are some facts and helpful tips to help you protect yourself and your loved ones from eye injuries:
- Accidental eye injury is one of the leading causes of visual impairment in the United States
- Men are more likely to suffer with an eye injury than women.
- The leading causes of eye injuries include sports accidents, consumer fireworks, household chemicals and battery acid, as well as workshop and yard debris
- Eyes can be damaged by the sun, not just dust, chemicals and foreign bodies.
- Wear safety goggles when working in the workshop or yard, jump-starting your car or working with cleaning or other chemicals.
- Always wear appropriate protective eyewear during sports and recreational activities.
- Injuries such as cuts, chemical burns or foreign bodies stuck in the eye are emergencies. Don’t try to treat these yourself – contact your eye doctor or emergency room for help immediately.
- In case of a chemical burn to the eye, flush the eye with clean water and seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
Ultraviolet light and your eyes
Summer is the time of year when many of us spend significant time outdoors. While most of us remember to use sunblock to protect our skin, we sometimes forget to protect our eyes as well.
Too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light raises your risk of eye diseases and other problems. Here are a few of the eye conditions you can avoid year-round by wearing sunglasses:
- Cataracts and eye cancers can take years to develop. Each time you bask in the sun without eye protection, you increase your risk of serious disease. Babies and children need to wear hats and sunglasses for this very reason. People of all ages should take precautions whenever they are outdoors.
- Growths on the eye, such as pterygium, can show up in our teens or 20s. Surfers, skiers, fishermen, farmers and others who spend long hours under the midday sun or near rivers, oceans and mountains are at risk.
- “Snow blindness”, a form of photokeratitis, can quickly develop after exposure to UV reflections off of snow, ice, sand, and water
This is why it’s important to think of sunglasses not just as a fashion accessory, but as an important tool to prevent eye injury. Be sure to select sunglasses that provide 100% UV or UV400 protection, or block both UV-A and UV-B rays.
It’s important to note that healthy exposure to sunlight can have positive effects, as long as you protect your eyes from UV damage with sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats. We all need a little natural light every day to absorb vitamin D and to help us sleep well. The light-sensitive cells in our eyes play an important role in our body’s natural wake-sleep cycles — this is especially important as we age and become more prone to insomnia.
So get outside and have fun with your friends and family for all the benefits that fresh air, sunlight, and exercise can provide. Just remember to keep yourself – including your eyes – safe from injury.