In the United States, over 2.5 million eye injuries happen every year with 50,000 people actually losing at least part of their vision as a result. Of that 2.5 million, almost 18% are caused by projectile objects, 13% by blunt objects, 10% by body parts (fingers, elbows, fists, etc.), and 9% by sharp objects.
Of the millions of eye injuries that take place each year, almost half of them (44%) occur in the home and 40% during sport activities. The remaining 16% is taken up by miscellaneous injuries and work-related injuries.
So, regardless of location and how the injury happens, what types of injuries happen most frequently? The following are the 5 most common.
- Scratched Eye. Most commonly, an eye becomes scratched when a foreign body enters it and the individual then rubs the eye in an attempt to remove the irritation. Eyes also become scratched when they are poked by a foreign body. A scratched eye can become serious very quickly, with a fungal infection for example, so seeing a doctor if there is no improvement in a day or two is crucial. In addition, a scratched eye can be worse for individuals who wear contacts.
- Chemical Burn. This type of injury can happen when a chemical is splashed into the eye or transferred from an individual’s hands. Fumes and vapors can also cause chemical burn to eyes. Finding out the type of chemical, acid or alkali, is crucial since one (acid) can be washed out more easily than the other (alkali). If eyes become red or blurry or do not improve after 24 hours, see a doctor.
- Flash Burn. Burns to the eyes also can come from sources such as sunlight, welding, tanning booths and sunlamps. Protecting eyes against sunburn, Yes, Your Eyes Can Get a Sunburn, and taking precaution in welding and other situations is key to preventing flash burns.
- Foreign Object in Eye. An object in the eye often leads to a scratched eye (see #1 above), and can be caused even just by an eyelash, dust, contacts and makeup. While time and eye flushing can remove these objects, when a foreign object, such as a fish hook, actually penetrates the eye, self removal is not a good idea. Instead, getting to a doctor right away is important.
- Blow to the Eye. These types of injuries happen often in sports, and the result is usually a swollen, black and blue eye. It’s important to check for additional injury, such as a broken eye socket or internal damage, when a blow to the eye occurs.
Perhaps the most startling fact regarding eye injuries, regardless of type and cause, is that 90% of ALL eye injuries could be prevented by wearing protective eyewear. Yet, only 50% of people wear them when working around the house, which is the most likely place to receive an eye injury.
The second factor crucial in preventing permanent eye damage and vision loss is knowing what to do, and sometimes more importantly what NOT to do, if injury does occur.
The following resource list will help you take these two crucial steps, wearing protective eye wear and being prepared if injury does occur.