As I see it: Every month (and especially October) is Eye Injury Prevention Month
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By Joseph Dolan, M.D., Eye Care Center at Mayo Clinic Health System
We often don’t think about eye injuries when doing daily activities, but as almost half of all eye injuries each year happen at home, we probably should. October is Eye Injury Prevention Month, although I see it as a year-round goal.
Here are examples of common household activities that can cause an eye injury, according to experts from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:
• Household chemicals or bleach: Getting unexpectedly sprayed or splashed in the eye can cause anything from minor irritation to a chemical burn. If this happens, immediately flush the eye by putting your head under a steady stream of room temperature tap water for 15 minutes. Contact your eye doctor or urgent care facility to determine what is recommended as a next step, based on the chemical.
• Hot grease or oil splatter: As with household chemicals, the most important thing to do is irrigate the eye and contact your eye doctor as soon as possible.
• Drilling or hammering: An activity as simple as hanging a picture can cause a nail or screw to become a projectile or cause fragments to fly off and cause an eye injury. Seek immediate medical help if you are hit in the eye with any foreign object.
• Lawn and garden care: Always wear protective eyewear when mowing the grass, trimming hedges, cutting wood or using power tools. Whether you use a riding or push mower, stop the engine when any one approaches. The mower can cause rocks and other objects on the lawn to fly toward someone and cause injury.
• Securing items to racks: Use caution with any objects that have the potential to snap like bungee cords or rubber bands.
Sports injuries: The eyes have it
Keep eye protection in mind when participating in sports. People often think of sprains and strains as sports-related problems, but eye injuries account for an estimated 100,000 physician visits each year in the United States for school-aged children. Parents should ensure children protect their eyes when participating in baseball, basketball, hockey, indoor racket sports and cycling, to name a few.
Also, darts, paint ball guns and BB guns may seem like toys, but can cause serious injuries; including vision loss and blindness. Be sure to have a discussion with your youngsters about how to use these items carefully and follow all safety instructions, including protective eyewear.
Eye protection tips
Here are tips I give my patients when it comes to preserving their eyesight:
• Use protective eyewear while doing projects at home, when working outside and during sports activities.
• When spending time outdoors, wear sunglasses that provide 97-100 percent UV protection.
• Make sure you and your family gets regular eye check-ups and screenings.
• If you have a chronic disease like diabetes, follow through on any physician recommendations related to eye care health.
Joseph Dolan, M.D., is an ophthalmologist with Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.