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. ( 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. ( An additional 2,000 eye injuries are caused per year by fireworks. (

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. ( 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. ( 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.

Family Credits Sunglasses for Saving Son’s Eye

November 12, 2009.

Sunglasses save Kevin's eye.

The family of a Medford soldier injured when a Humvee was struck by a truck on Tuesday in Iraq is crediting special protective sunglasses given to his local Oregon Army National Guard unit with saving his right eye.

Spc. Kevin Gallo, 27, son of Ron and Laurie Gallo of Medford, was serving as a gunner in the turret of the armored vehicle when it was struck, causing him to hit his head, his mother said.

“He broke the occipital bone behind his eye,” his mother said. “His glasses broke, but I believe with all my heart that he would have lost his eye at the very least without those glasses.”

She was referring to the Wiley X sunglasses given to the roughly 150 citizen-soldiers of the Guard’s 1st Battalion of the 186th Infantry, headquartered in Ashland. After learning that Medford resident Debbie Hicks had raised about $1,600 this past spring, enough to buy 68 pairs at a drastically reduced price for the soldiers from Jackson and Josephine counties, Wiley X Inc. in Livermore, Calif., donated 90 pairs free. At a retail value of $95 each, that represented a gift of $8,500. Hicks is an American Red Cross volunteer dedicated to helping local soldiers.

Deployed to Camp Victory near Baghdad early in the summer, the local soldiers are among more than 600 members of the 1/186th that joined the Guard’s Tigard-based 41st Infantry Combat Brigade Team, which sent about 2,800 troops from Oregon and some 650 more from other states to Iraq. They are expected to return home next spring.

According to the Guard, the collision occurred early Tuesday morning when a truck traveling with no lights hit the Humvee when the convoy had stopped. Cpl. Richard Martin of Central Point also was injured in the accident. Although information about Martin’s injuries was not available at press time, the Guard reported that neither soldier was critically injured, and both were in stable condition.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a former Marine, stopped by to visit Kevin Gallo at the military hospital in Balad on Wednesday during his visit to Iraq. The specialist was expected to be flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany today where he would receive further treatment.

Laurie Gallo said the family had not heard from the military, but had received a call from their son who informed them of his injuries.

Kevin Gallo, a graduate of Crater High School, and his wife, Tasha, have two young children.

Can You Hear Me Now?

For years has sold hearing protection in the form of both muffs and plugs. Manufacturers of these products are required to assign a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) to each one to inform users of the level of protection offered. It should be understood that this rating ultimately is still approximate, not absolute, because each product will fit everyone differently, and not all users will wear or use the products correctly, thus affecting (reducing) the level of protection.

Rumor has it that this current rating system will soon evolve to a more accurate and universal system. Perhaps we’ll re-examine this topic then, but now let’s look at what factors can hinder the performance of ear plugs or ear muffs. Avoiding these common mistakes could mean avoiding hearing loss, and will maximize the product’s effectiveness as well as your investment in the product.

Ear Plugs

  • Plugs are not inserted properly or deeply enough. When plugs are not properly inserted, their effectiveness can be reduced by 50%. Click here for illustrated instructions on proper insertion.
  • Disposable plugs are used beyond their intended lifespan. Such plugs are designed for one day of average use. Exceptionally dirty environments, or repeated extraction and replacing (additional rolling) of plugs may require that more than one new pair be used in a given day.
  • Reusable plugs are not cleaned properly or often enough. Plugs should be cleaned with water daily (and dried with dust-free cloth), or more if used in areas with heavy dust content.

Ear Muffs

  • Ear muffs are worn too tightly or too loosely. The muffs should fit snugly but comfortably over the ears, and should not lose their position with basic head movements.
  • The band is not properly placed on head. Ear muffs should be worn such that the supporting band rests upright, comfortably across the top of wearer’s head (excluding behind-the-head band styles).
  • Radio muffs are used too loudly. Ear muffs equipped with radios should not be played at maximum volume for extended periods of time. Playing at a moderate level will help save your hearing and improve the life of the batteries.
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