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Tips to Protect Your Eyes from Injury

Eye Protection

Protecting your eyes from injury is one of the simplest and most important things you can do to keep your vision healthy. The easiest step of all to prevent 90 percent of eye injuries is wearing proper protective eyewear. According to a national survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, only 35 percent of respondents said they always wear protective eyewear when performing home repairs or maintenance; even fewer do so while playing sports.

Eye Injury Facts

  • An eye injury can damage vision and cause blindness.
  • Eyes can be damaged by sun exposure, not just chemicals, dust or objects.
  • Men are more likely to sustain an eye injury than women.
  • Nearly half (44.7 percent) of all eye injuries occur in the home
  • More than 40 percent of eye injuries are caused during home repairs, yard work, cleaning, and cooking.
  • More than a third (34.2 percent) of injuries in the home occurred in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living, or family room.
  • More than 40 percent of eye injuries are related to sports or recreational activities.
  • Among all eye injuries, more than 78 percent of people were not wearing eyewear at the time. Of those wearing eyewear, only 5.3 percent were wearing safety or sports glasses.

What can you do to prevent an eye injury?

An eye injury can happen just about anywhere: in the kitchen, on the job or even at the playground. All it takes is a flying champagne cork or a shooting rubber band. Take these simple steps to reduce the risk of an eye injury and understand when to see a doctor:

  • Wear protective eyewear during risky activities. Wear safety glasses with side shields anytime you might be exposed to flying particles, objects or dust. Wear goggles when exposed to chemicals. Wear protective eyewear during any sport featuring a ball, racket or other flying object.
  • Take caution with chemicals and cleaners. Carefully read the labels of chemicals and household cleaning supplies, such as bleach, before using them. Don't mix products. Keep all chemicals and sprays out of a child's reach.
  • Supervise your child's use of tools. Pencils, scissors, forks and penknives can all cause serious eye injury. Keep in mind that common household items, such as paper clips, bungee cords, wire coat hangers, rubber bands and fishhooks, also can be dangerous.
  • Avoid certain children's toys. Avoid projectile toys, such as darts, bows and arrows, missile-firing toys, and nonpowder rifles, such as pellet guns or BB guns.
  • Be careful when cooking or using hot objects. Use grease shields to prevent the splattering of hot grease or oil. Avoid using a curling iron near your eyes.
  • Eliminate hazards that may cause falls. Secure rugs and railings. Consider covering sharp furniture edges and corners with a cushioning material, especially if a child or elderly adult lives in your home.
  • Forgo backyard fireworks. Leave fireworks to trained professionals.
  • Take caution when opening a champagne bottle. Don't shake the bottle. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and any bystanders. Firmly place your palm over the cork while removing the wire hood. Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle, grasp the cork and slowly twist the bottle until the cork is almost out of the neck. To prevent the cork from being discharged like a missile, maintain slight downward pressure on the cork just as it comes out of the bottle.
  • Use car seats. Make sure your child is properly secured in a car seat and that the seat belt or shoulder belt fits tightly. Don't allow a child age 12 or younger to ride in the front seat. Store loose items in your trunk or secure them to the floor of your vehicle.

What are the signs and symptoms of an eye injury?

It's not always easy to identify an eye injury, especially in a child. Seek medical care immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Obvious pain or trouble seeing
  • A cut or torn eyelid
  • One eye not moving as well as the other eye
  • One eye sticking out or seeming more prominent compared with the other
  • An unusual pupil size or shape
  • Blood in the white part of the eye
  • An object on the eye or under the eyelid that can't easily be removed

What can you do if an eye injury occurs?

If you have suffered an eye injury, review these care and treatment recommendations. Most importantly, though, have an ophthalmologist or other medical doctor examine the eye as soon as possible, even if the injury seems minor. Delaying care could lead to permanent vision loss or blindness.

  • Flush out any chemicals the eye has been exposed to with plenty of clean water
  • Gently place a shield or gauze patch over the eye until you can get medical attention
  • Do NOT touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye
  • Do NOT try to remove an object that appears stuck on the surface of the eye or an object that appears to have penetrated the eye
  • Do NOT apply ointment or medication to the eye


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