Good eye safety habits can greatly reduce the chances of sustaining an eye injury. The key word is habits. But, how much of an impact do eye safety habits really make in the reduction of eye injuries? What habits are the top priorities for eye injury prevention? Where should a person start with establishing good eye safety habits?
First, consider that about 45% of all eye injuries occur in the home (according to the 5th Annual Eye Injury Snapshot conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma). These injuries were caused by activities such as home repairs, cleaning, yard work and cooking. Eyes can also be damaged by sun exposure as well as by chemicals, dust and projectiles.
Second, another 40% of all eye injuries reported occur during sports and recreational activities. That leaves about 15% occurring elsewhere, including the workplace. Yet, where are most regulations and habits enforced with regard to eye safety? You got it, the workplace. While having good eye safety habits in the workplace is necessary, building good eye safety habits outside of the workplace are clearly crucial in reducing the number of eye injuries.
So what habits actually help to reduce eye injuries? The easiest habit is wearing protective eyewear. In fact, doing so will prevent a whopping 90% of eye injuries. Among all reported eye injuries, more than 78% of the people involved were not wearing protective eyewear. Obviously, the first habit to establish is to purchase and wear protective eyewear.
The second essential habit for eye safety is prevention. The National Society to Prevent Blindness estimates that 90% of all eye injuries can be prevented. One of the best ways to prevent eye injury is by following manufacturer’s directions and warnings. Another way is to use common sense. For example, pick up rocks and sticks before mowing, don’t peer into a bag of hot microwave popcorn, and keep children from running with sharp objects.
While workplace eye injuries may not make up the larger percent of all eye injuries, nearly 100,000 American’s loose eyesight in one or both eyes yearly from injuries sustained in the workplace. Additionally, workplace eye injuries cost over $133 million a year in lost production, medical expenses and workers’ compensation, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Following OSHA standards for eye safety in the workplace provides the best prevention to serve in reducing these numbers.
Another important habit, regardless of location, is to know proper first aid and emergency treatment. In the workplace, know the prevention and safety procedures already established. Outside of the workplace, first seek immediate medical attention as soon after an eye injury as possible. Before doing anything with the affected eye, be sure hands are washed thoroughly with soap and water. For eyes with foreign objects or chemicals in them, try flushing the eye with clean water. Removing contacts, especially with chemical exposure, is also important. If you can see an object in the eye, try to remove it with a clean, wet washcloth, but be sure to do so gently. Avoid trying to do so for very long because the problem could worsen easily. For bleeding from the eye, gently cover the eye with a clean cloth and go to the emergency room.
The above tips are basics for beginning good eye safety habits on a personal level. A parallel starting point is education about eye safety. You’ve already begun establishing this habit by reading this article. Now take it further by finding out more about the eye safety habits suggested. Research the protective eyewear that will best suit you and your activities. Then, deliberately consider the prevention techniques that you can establish, and find out the best ways to put them into practice. Finally, talk to your family and friends about prevention as well as first aid for the eye.
Realizing how far good eye safety habits can go in preventing and minimizing eye damage is hopefully enough motivation to encourage anyone to take a step toward building good eye safety habits at home, in the workplace, and at play.