When you hear that October is Eye Safety & Injury Prevention Month, you may think this only applies to certain people with dangerous hobbies or occupations. The reality is that there are more than 2 million eye injuries each year in the U.S. and many of them happen unexpectedly during activities that many people would not consider dangerous for eyes. Eye injuries are accidents but there are precautions you can take in every situation to keep your eyes as healthy and safe as possible.
To begin, here is a fantastic video by AllAboutVision.com that provides a consolidated list of ways to prevent eye injuries:
Workplace Eye Safety
The most obvious place to prevent eye injuries is the workplace for those of us who have jobs where objects or chemicals can harm the eyes. If you have a job like this, it’s important that you and your employer are aware of any safety programs or organizations that may be helpful or required by law. In the United States, for instance, employers are required to follow guidelines for protective eyewear and emergency eye care set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Most occupations with risk to eye health provide safety eyewear or face masks but it’s important that you, as an employee, inquire about eye safety training and protective eyewear if you have any questions or are not provided protection.
Wearing the appropriate eye and face protection is the first step to prevent injury during work or any other activity, however there are other things that can be addressed to prevent eye injury. Some of these things include working overtime, working while fatigued, beginning an unfamiliar task or with unfamiliar tools, experiencing tool malfunction, being rushed or getting distracted. In professions that can be a risk to eye health, it’s important to always be alert for potential accidents in order to reduce mistakes or clumsiness.
Eye Safety during Home Projects and Yard Work
Home improvement projects, including yard work, are the second most well known reason for eye injury besides workplace injuries. The precautions you can take with these are pretty similar as well. You should always be rested and use eye protection when doing activities with small objects, using tools, using household chemicals or cutting tools like saws, sanders, lawn mowers and weed-whackers.
Some precautions you can take at home include:
- Wear protective eyewear or goggles when working with tools
- Inspect your yard for rocks or debris that could potentially ricochet off lawn trimming blades
- When using heavy-duty glues, chemicals or detergents, use protective gear, ventilate the area/room, and be sure to point any nozzles away from your face
- Use impact-resistant protective eyewear when applying or dismantling bungee cords, taught rope, or stakes
- Use protective eyewear with UVA & UVB protection or invest in durable wrap around sunglasses equipped with impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses and 100% UVA & UVB protection – even if you are lucky to not experience flying debris, harmful UV rays can actually sunburn your eyes if you’re working outside. (Click here for this type of sunglass that can also fit over Rx eyewear)
- Be sure your family and friends are protected as well as any other bystanders
Sports Eye Safety
Sports with small objects tend to cause many injuries on a daily basis in the United States. This is one of the most common eye injury causes. Particularly games like hockey, baseball, tennis, and badminton tend to cause injuries as the object being propelled is very small. However, basketball is another sport that causes major eye injuries, as well as any contact sport or sports involving rackets.
It’s important to wear protective sporting eyewear with durable, impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses and it’s even sometimes required by certain fitness facilities or coaches. Not only can the correct sport safety eyewear prevent eye injuries, but it can also enhance the players visual acuity in adverse weather.
Fireworks and Recreational Shooting Games.
Fireworks are most common during related holidays like Independence Day but are dangerous every other day of the year as well. The easiest way to prevent injury from fireworks is to not use them and leave it to the professional shows. Even small innocent-seeming fireworks like sparklers can cause permanent damage to vision. You can read more facts and stats on the dangers of fireworks here.
Face masks or protective eyewear is usually required for recreational shooting games involving paintball or airsoft guns, but many people do not fully know the dangers associated with it.
“Most documented paintball-related eye injuries have occurred when players removed their shields, even for just a few seconds. Paintball injuries include traumatic cataracts, detached retinas, hyphema (bleeding inside the eye),glaucoma, orbital (eye socket) blowout fractures and rupturing of the eyeball. Paintball-related eye injuries can result in permanent vision loss and even blindness.”
In the Car
Aside from hazardous situations that are a bit more obvious, there are also common daily dangers to our eye safety that many people don’t consider but should. Air bags are much safer now than they used to be but they still deploy very fast and can easily damage your eyes or vision faster than you can blink. The best way to protect your eyes from accidents with airbags is to always sit at least 10-12 inches from the steering wheel with your headrest properly adjusted and your seatbelt fastened correctly.
If you work on your car at home, then you should already know to always wear eye protection but many people don’t think to store safety goggles with their jumper cables. It is also suggested that you wear eye protection and never lean directly over your car battery while jump-starting a car due to possible sparks, fires, or explosions.
In the Home
Many people also forget about kitchen and cooking eye safety. When cooking with oils, spices and sauces, it’s quite easy to splash these things in your eyes or rub your face after touching them. This can be especially painful with hot oil splashes or spicy flavors stuck on your hands. The best practice is to wear some eye protection, use splash guards or splatter screens, and keep your hands clean or wear gloves when handling spicy flavors.
If you like to cook with alcohol, the precautions are the same and if you host a dinner with sparkling spirits, there are more precautions to take with champagne corks. Champagne corks are said to be able to “rupture an eyeball, cause a detached retina, dislocate the eye’s lens, damage the orbital bone structure and more.” Some things you can do to prevent an eye injury include:
1. Chill the bottle to 45 degrees F or colder before uncorking
2. Point the bottle away from yourself and bystanders
3. Don’t pop the cork up from underneath but instead place a towel over the cork and twist it off with your palm on top
Cooking and cleaning in your own home can bring accidents and eye injuries. Even when using common household chemicals, accidents happen; be sure to ventilate the area, wear protective gear, point any nozzles away from you and clean your hands before touching your face. This includes laundry and dish washer liquid detergents which can also damage the eye upon contact; pods can help prevent any splashing liquids in this case.
In Children’s Toys
Lastly, you can protect yourself and your children by considering eye safety when shopping for kid’s toys. According to AllAboutVision.com’s online survey, 41% of parents rarely or never consider eye safety when shopping for their children’s toys. Some toys that could potentially cause eye injuries are water guns or toy guns that shoot objects, games with long pointed objects like fishing poles, wands, swords or sabers, silly string, and laser pointers. You should read more about which toys to avoid for eye safety and other general information about toys and eye safety this month.
Be sure to share with your friends and family in support of October as Eye Safety & Injury Prevention Month.