“You’ll shoot your eye out, Mom!”

Over the years, parents have warned their children countless times to be careful with objects that pose an obvious threat to their eyes, including things like BB guns and scissors. Now it’s the parents’ turn to hear a similar warning regarding champagne corks as well as those from sparkling champagnewine and juice.

Turns out, a flying cork really could take out a person’s eye. Not really surprising since a corked champagne bottle has 3x the pressure of a car tire and comes out of the bottle at 60mph.

A cork, being the perfect size to fit in a person’s eye socket, can cause a corneal abrasion (scratch to the surface of the eye), retinal detachment and even permanent blindness as it flies out of a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine or juice.

Because of the fairly common occurrence of these injuries, especially during the holidays, the American Academy of Ophthalmology issued a public service warning reminding of the dangers and providing tips on how to avoid shooting your eye out with a champagne cork.

  1. Keep the bottle chilled since pressure can build more in a warm bottle.
  2. Avoid shaking the bottle, which only increases the pressure and the cork speed.
  3. Place a towel over the top of the bottle to keep corks from launching into the air.
  4. Watch your aim by pointing the bottle away from people.
  5. Hold the cork and twist the bottle instead of the other way around.
  6. Never use a corkscrew, which basically makes a cork an even more dangerous projectile.

To make sure you get a kiss along with your bubbly instead of a trip to the emergency room to ring in the New Year, plan to use these tips for safely opening that bottle of bubbly when the clock strikes midnight.

Decorative Contact Lenses

From athletes to actors and Halloween costumes to fashion accessories, decorative contacts lenses have caught the eyes of many people. Whether looking for a competitive edge, wanting to get in character, putting the finishing touches on your desired look, or supporting your favorite team decorative-contact-lenses(think team logo on your eyes) many people turn to decorative contact lenses.

While much of their use purely involves visual appeal, with decorative lens sales increasing significantly at Halloween, some professional athletes now use colored contact lenses because they say it improves their athletic performance. Examples include Brian Roberts (second baseman for the Orioles) who has worn tinted contacts during day games to improve visibility and A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox catcher) who wears them in lieu of sunglasses, which can slip, get sweaty and add unwanted bulk. While research has yet to prove that colored contacts do actually improve performance, SIVault reports that many athletes in a variety of sports, including baseball, football and golf, believe they do enhance performance.

Regardless of the reason for wearing them, buying colored contacts is easy these days as they are readily available through many retail stores and on the Internet. Unfortunately, wearing decorative/colored contact lenses could ultimately cost a person their vision.

In an effort to prevent permanent eye damage and possibly blindness, heed the following two rules when purchasing decorative contact lenses:

Rule #1 – Beware of lawbreakers. Contact lenses – whether corrective or not – are regulated by the FDA. Any vendor not requiring a prescription from your eye doctor and asking for your doctor’s contact information is breaking the law. Only buy contacts – prescription or decorative – from a company that is FDA-cleared to sell contact lenses.

Rule #2 – Consult an expert. An eye doctor will make sure contacts fit properly as well as teach you how to properly care for your contacts and in turn your eyes. Your eye doctor can also help you prevent significant eye disease and damage.

To help implement these rules, make sure to include the following non-negotiables when purchasing and wearing decorative (colored) contact lenses:

  1. Individual fit. Contacts, prescription or not, are not one-size-fits all, so don’t share contacts. An eye doctor can help you find lenses that fit your eyes, thus reducing the chance of damage to the eye from improper fit. Contacts that don’t fit right can scratch the eye, cause an infection and decrease vision. All of these can lead to loss of vision and blindness.
  2. Proper care. Read and follow the instructions that should come with your contacts as well as those given to you by your eye doctor. Taking care of your contacts and eyes will go a long way in preventing significant inconvenience, health care cost, and even permanent – and preventable – issues.
  3. Communication. Tell your eye doctor why you want the contacts, and then be sure to go to any follow-up visits to make sure the lenses fit properly and don’t cause any irritation. Let your eye doctor know of any discomfort – even if seemingly minor – with your contacts since damage to eyes is often cumulative and therefore unnoticeable until the problem becomes severe and causes permanent damage.
  4. A prescription. Getting a prescription from an eye doctor ensures you get the contacts that are right for you. Quality contact retailers will not only ask for this prescription but for your eye doctor’s name and phone number as well.
  5. Awareness. Know the signs of eye damage, which include redness, pain that doesn’t go away and decreased vision. Remove your contacts, and then see an eye doctor immediately if you notice any of these signs of eye damage.

Having eyes like a cheetah or your favorite fashion model may seem fun at the time, but purchasing from an unauthorized seller and leaving your eye doctor out of the mix can not only turn a $30 vacation adventure into $2,000 medical bills (check out Laura’s story) but can result in an agonizing recovery process, partial vision loss and even complete blindness.

Be smart about what you put into your eye to help ensure good eye health for a lifetime.

3 Tips For Selecting Cold Weather Safety Goggles

Winter Safety Goggles

Winter poses unique challenges when it comes to protective eyewear. Knowing what features to look for in a safety goggle will help you make the right choice.

For those of us in the Northern States, the falling temperatures and recent snow flurries are a good indication the first day of winter is just around the corner. These colder temperatures mean significant changes for those who have to work outdoors. While coats, hats, gloves, boots and insulating layers of clothing help block the wind and keep the body warm, we also need to pay special attention to our eyes.

Exposure to cold temperatures, wind and snow glare pose unique challenges to eye safety during the winter months. Injuries from these hazards can cause eye pain, blurred or decreased vision, light sensitivity and even vision loss! You can see why protecting your eyes in the winter is important. However, it’s easily overlooked, because we tend to worry about protecting other parts of our body from the cold first.

More Protection is Better
When it comes to protecting your eyes in the winter, it’s hard to beat a goggle. They provide outstanding protection from the wind and flying particles, and provide extra face coverage as well. However, make sure you select a goggle that is designed to be used in cold conditions. The average “lab goggle” will become rigid and uncomfortable to wear for prolonged periods and prone to excessive lens fogging. Goggles designed for winter will have features similar to ski goggles, such as soft, dense foam around the face, dual-pane lenses and wide comfortable headbands. *Make sure you use a goggle that is ANSI Z87.1-2010 certified. Avoid the temptation to use ski or snowmobile goggles as they are NOT ANSI Z87 rated.

1. Fight Lens Fogging
Without a doubt the biggest problem faced by eye protection in cold weather is lens fogging. The temperature variance between a worker’s heated face and the cold outside air causes condensation to build up on the lens. Heavy exertion can exacerbate this, because the perspiration introduces additional moisture to the lens area. Fogged lenses cause worker frustration due to blurred vision and having to frequently remove their eyewear to clear the lenses. Even worse, some workers choose to not wear their protective eyewear to avoid fighting with lens fogging! This leaves them dangerously exposed to eye injuries.

Anti-fog coatings are your first line of defense, because they help reduce and delay the condensation that can build up on the interior of the lens. However, anti-fog coatings are not fool proof, and lenses will still need to be wiped down after time to remove excess moisture. When selecting safety eyewear with anti-fog coatings, look for advanced coatings that are permanently bonded to the lens. Bonded anti-fog coatings offer better performance and last longer between repeated cleanings and lens wiping. Anti-Fog Spray can also be used to improve anti-fog performance, especially on eyewear that doesn’t have a standard anti-fog coating.

Another important feature for winter safety goggles is the lens design. Dual-pane lenses are well suited for winter applications because they feature two lenses separated by an air chamber. The air between the two lens panes acts as an insulator, which helps reduce condensation. Just like other winter eyewear, dual-pane lenses should be treated with an anti-fog coating to maximize their anti-fog performance.

2. Go With The Flow
Airflow is another technique used to reduce lens fogging. Air vents integrated into the goggles body allow warm, moist air to escape, which helps reduce moisture build up on the lens. Direct venting offers the best performance, but it can’t be used in all situations.  In certain safety environments where liquid/chemical splash is a concern, direct venting is not recommended. In such a case, you’ll want to select a goggle with indirect (hooded) vents or no vents at all.

Good airflow is a key feature for keeping lens fogging under control. In fact, it’s how the best anti-fog goggles in world keep their lenses fog free.  If you’re working in extreme conditions that require the absolute maximum in anti-fog performance, then you should consider a goggle with a built-in vent fan. These types of goggles feature a variable speed electric fan that exhausts the hot, humid air from inside the goggle before it has a chance to condensate on the lens. Of course, these type of goggles don’t come cheap, costing north of $100, and are usually reserved for military and tactical applications where clear vision could mean the difference between life or death.

3. Don’t Look Into The Light!
Photokeratitis, also known as snow blindness, shouldn’t be taken for granted and happens more often than you think. If you’ve ever been outside on a sunny winter day with the sun reflecting off a fresh blanket of snow, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The intensity of the sun’s glare bouncing off the snow can be overwhelming and extremely uncomfortable. Plus your eyes are being exposed to high levels of UV light, which can lead to macular degeneration, cataracts and corneal sunburn!

Tinted polycarbonate (or similar material) lenses are the best way to combat this onslaught of sunlight and UV exposure. Common lens tints, such as gray, brown or mirrored, are suitable for most outdoor applications. For those who frequently transition from indoors to outdoors, you may want to consider an “indoor/outdoor” tint or even a photochromic lens. The selection of lens tints should be based on user preference, working conditions and company policy (some companies may not allow the use of mirrored lenses).

Another way to reduce glare is through the use of Polarized lenses, which use a special filtering film sandwiched into the lens. This film has fine, horizontal lines, which help block the glare shining off of reflective surfaces, such as snow, water and ice. Benefits include less eye strain and improved visual clarity.

Keep Calm and Wear Your Eye Protection
With all of winter’s discomforts, unique challenges and hazards, it’s easy to forget about or even ignore eye protection. Following the suggestions above will help keep your eyes safe during the cold winter months ahead.

List of recommended anti-fog goggles for winter:

Do you have any questions, comments or suggestions about winter eye protection? Please post them in the comments section below.