Keep Summertime Fun by Avoiding Eye Injuries

Kids in the pool with sunglasses

Child-sized safety glasses help protect your kids eyes.

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.

Fireworks Eye Safety Tips

Fireworks Require Safety Glasses

Sparklers can burn at 1800 degrees! Safety Glasses should be worn at all times.

The 4th of July brings to mind visions of parades, cookouts, and, of course, fireworks. Fireworks and celebrations just seem to go together, especially on the 4th of July. Unfortunately, every 4th of July also sees about 11,000 individuals go to the emergency room for fireworks related injuries with 18 percent of those injuries involving the eye. In fact, eye injury is second only to burns when it comes to injury from fireworks. Of the 18 percent, sky rockets or bottle rockets account for 15 percent of eye injuries related to fireworks on the 4th of July.

Eye injuries from fireworks are often devastating with one-third of the injuries resulting in permanent eye damage and one-fourth in partial vision loss or blindness. Even more unfortunate is the fact that children under age 15 watching fireworks are the most frequently injured. Additionally, sparklers, many children’s favorite firework, are the source of 10% of injuries caused by fireworks and can actually burn at 1800 degrees, which is hot enough to melt gold.

Attending a public display of fireworks on the 4th of July is by far the safest way to enjoy fireworks since professional displays rarely lead to spectator injury. There is simply no safe way for non-professionals to use fireworks. However, regardless of how unsafe they might be, non-professional displays will continue to be a popular way to enjoy the holiday.  For this reason, knowing the action steps that can help prevent serious injury as well as minimize damage once injury does occur is essential. While the focus here is on eye injury, the steps are easily applicable to any injury related to fireworks.

How To Treat Fireworks Eye Injuries

When fireworks cause an injury, seek medical attention immediately. Even if the injury seems mild, damaged areas can easily worsen if proper treatment does not occur right away. Second, stay calm when an accident happens. Keep the victim as calm as possible as well. Third, when the injury is to the eye, do not rub the eye and be vigilant in keeping a child’s hand away from his or her injured eye. Pressure often does more harm than good when it comes to eye injury.

Next, avoid rinsing the injured eye since this can be even more damaging than rubbing the eye. Instead, shield the eye from any pressure by covering it with a foam cup, milk carton or similar shield. Use tape to secure the makeshift shield. Fifth, avoid any pain medications. Getting to the emergency room as quickly as possible is priority, plus many pain medications can thin the blood and cause increased bleeding. Also, do not apply any ointment or medication directly to the eye as this can make the eye slippery and the physician’s job more difficult.

How To Prevent Fireworks Eye Injuries

Obviously, preventing injury is the best approach. First and foremost, the best prevention is attending a professional fireworks display and refraining from non-professional displays at someone’s home. If you do choose to attend a non-professional fireworks display, have everyone present wear safety glasses. Safety glasses may not prevent all fireworks injuries, but they can prevent a majority of serious injuries to the eyes, and they certainly can reduce the severity of those injuries. Regular glasses and sunglasses certainly will not prevent injury and may break or shatter and worsen an existing injury or cause additional injury.  When it comes to children, proper adult supervision along with having them wear children’s safety glasses is a must. Taking these simple safety precautions can prevent serious eye damage and allow the 4th of July to continue being a day remembered for celebrating our nations independence and enjoying parades, cookouts and fireworks.

For additional Fireworks Safety Articles please see the following links: Eye Injuries High During July 4th WeekendFireworks Safety

Sources:  Prevent Blindness America – www.preventblindness.org; American Academy of Opthamology – www.aao.org; and Richmond Eye Associates – www.richmondeye.com.

 

Eye Injuries High During July 4th Weekend

Remember to use eye protection while handling fireworks.

We Americans love to celebrate our nation’s birth. Typical Independence activities may include a long day at the beach, water sports, barbeques, and, of course, fireworks!

Great family memories of the 4th of July are no accident. More injuries are reported during the Independence weekend than any other time of the year. To make sure your family memories of the 4th of July are all happy ones, be aware and be prepared.

Of course you’ll need comfortable sunglasses for that long day in the sun, but don’t forget to protect your eyes during night activities as well.

The facts are astounding. Each year, over 10,000 Americans seek treatment in emergency rooms from fireworks-related injuries. Nearly half of these injuries occur during the July 4th holiday weekend. Most frequently, fireworks-related injuries involve the eyes — nearly a third of these ER visits are for serious eye injuries.

Fireworks can shoot off in the wrong direction. Precautions we all need to take when using fireworks:

  • Always have adult supervision
  • Always use protective eyewear
  • Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby
  • Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest
  • Never relight a dud
  • Light only one firework at a time
  • Don’t allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event as some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.

If an eye injury occurs, don’t touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don’t flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and immediately seek medical attention —

Prepare to have a Fun and Safe – 4th of July!