There are many things that we take for granted in our every day life, and our vision is one of them. We wake up each day, and are very fortunate to see everything around us. We depend on our eyes to guide us as we go about our routine existence. September is the month to observe Sports and Home Eye Safety Month, so here are some tips to help protect those peepers.
First, sports and recreational activities cause more than 40,000 eye injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Most of these accidents are preventable. In fact, Prevent Blindness America reports that 90% of sports-related eye injuries can be prevented. Two sports that cause the most eye injuries are baseball and basketball, followed by water sports and racquet sports. Safety goggles are advised for children and adults who play softball and baseball. Children are the most vulnerable, as they often have underdeveloped depth perception, and may find it difficult to judge the position of a flying ball, resulting in a blow from a flying ball. It only makes sense that when professional athletes or others wear eye protection while playing sports, that we all should consider doing the same thing. You can get a finger in your eye, a black eye, or things such a tennis ball, racquet, fist, or elbow can cause sudden compression of the eye. Penetrating injuries occur when a foreign object pierces the eye; BB pellets are a common cause of this type of injury. Warning signs of potentially serious eye injuries include:
- Tears in the outer ocular walls;
- A foreign body inside the eye;
- Visual loss;
- Bleeding on the surface or inside the eye.
In any event, it is important to see a physician or ophthalmologist as soon as possible. First aid would be to place a protective cover over the eye to prevent more damage, or tape the bottom of a paper cup over the eye if no shield is available.
Another source of eye injury is right there in your home. Accidents involving common household products cause 125,000 eye injuries annually. However, 90% of these eye injuries can be prevented through safety practices and using proper eye protection. When you are painting or mowing, be sure to wear safety glasses or dust goggles. Keep tools in good condition; flying pieces of damaged tools can be hazardous to the eyes. Do not mix cleaning agents. There are many chemical ingredients in cleaning products that can irritate the eyes. Understand that regular eyeglasses don’t always provide enough protection.
As the old saying goes, “the best treatment is prevention.” The best prevention of eye injury while involved in sports or working at home is to wear specially designed protective eyewear. Eye guards may not completely eliminate risks, but can greatly reduce the chance of ocular injury. Different types of eye protection should be considered to match the sport or tasks involved, such as:
- The standard eye guard designed for use in sports such as baseball, racquetball, and basketball is made of polycarbonate (plastic) and has closed lenses and sports frames.
- Total head and face protection is essential for any collision sport, such as a helmet in football and a facemask in hockey.
- Non-prescription and prescription safety glasses.
- Shooting Safety Goggles.
- Face shields.
Be vigilant about what type of eye protection you choose for your young athlete, and grown-ups, wear eye protection whether at work, play, or at home. It’s not worth taking a chance on losing the precious gift of vision.