National Prevention of Eye Injuries Week is June 27th through July 5th, and July has been declared Eye Injury Prevention Month. The reason is simple: Summertime brings people outdoors, and the warmer weather motivates many people to participate in various outside activities including sports and fireworks and to tackle home improvement and other outdoor projects that seem to accumulate during the winter months. Along with this increased outside activity comes increased eye injury. The top culprits for summertime eye injury include damage from exposure to bright sunlight, chemical exposure and projectiles.
The Eye Injury Registry estimates that about 2.4 million eye injuries occur in the United States every year with most taking place during the summertime. (www.delawareonline.com) More than 5,000 eye injuries happen in the yard and garden per year, and around 40,000 people a year suffer eye injuries during sport activities. (www.rebuildyourvision.com) An additional 2,000 eye injuries are caused per year by fireworks. (www.richmondeye.com)
Chemical exposure to the eye is one common summertime hazard and can only be prevented by being smart about how chemicals are used. For example, spray bug repellant on hands and then wipe it on the face instead of risking spraying the repellant directly on the face and getting it in the eye. Also, be sure pool chemicals are balanced and not stinging swimmers’ eyes, and don’t wear contact lenses while swimming to avoid surface tension damage as well as infection from water getting under the lenses. Rinsing the eye with clean, lukewarm water or artificial tears as soon as possible is the best initial treatment after chemical exposure with a trip to the emergency room or eye doctor being the next step if eyes continue to burn.
Corneal abrasions (a scratch on the surface of the eye) are another common summertime injury and often involve a projectile during activities such as mowing, leaf blowing and other types of yard work as well as from home improvement projects. Picking up stones, twigs and other debris prior to doing any yard work is one way to help lessen the chance of eye injury. Safety glasses and goggles are the best protection against projectile eye injuries.
Sports are another source of eye-related injuries during the summertime with 18,000 sports-related eye injuries treated in emergency rooms every summer, and that’s just for children under the age of 15. (www.ooa.org) Sports with the highest risk of eye injury include baseball, basketball, racquet sports, football, hockey, and lacrosse, but paint ball is at the top of the list of culprits of sports-related eye injury.
Most eye injuries, 90% actually, are preventable but many are not reversible. (www.rebuildyourvision.com) For this reason, wearing impact resistant safety glasses or a facemask during activities such as baseball, paintball and yard work is so essential.
In addition, UV damage caused to the eyes by the sun is very real and can only be prevented by wearing lenses that absorb 99 to 100 percent of UV light, such as safety glasses with polycarbonate lenses. Dark lenses do not necessarily protect the eye. Eye damage from UV radiation is cumulative, meaning the longer the eyes are exposed to UV radiation, the greater the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.
Summer is definitely here, and no one wants it ruined by an eye injury. Safety glasses have certainly come a long way, and you no longer have to sacrifice fashion for safety. Take the prevention necessary to avoid a trip to the emergency room or, even worse, permanent damage to the eye.