Summer is peak time for eye-related injuries. Find out how to keep your eyes safe, while enjoying some summer fun.
Did you know that every year, there are over 1 million eye injuries in the United States? While most of us know eye injuries happen, it’s easy to underestimate how common they are and the serious repercussions they can have.
Eye injury prevention is especially important during the summer months — when most people are enjoying the outdoors. Thankfully most of these injuries are preventable with basic eye safety precautions.
In July, we celebrate Eye Injury Prevention Month. The goal is to bring awareness to the most common eye injuries and give patients basic tips to avoid them and protect their eyes.
Summer time means summer holidays — most notably the Fourth of July.
The Fourth of July is a fantastic occasion to soak in the sun and enjoy time with the family. However, it can pose risks to the eyes, especially for those shooting off fireworks.
Fourth of July fireworks cause a sizable number of injuries every year. In 2019, there were 12 firework-related deaths and 10,000 injuries. Three-quarters of these happened between June and July.
Of the firework-related injuries that occurred, it was reported that 15% of them were eye injuries. Some of these include:
Rupture of the globe of the eye
Chemical and thermal burns
They may be marketed as summer fun, but fireworks are not toys and should be treated with care. Serious firework-related injuries can lead to vision loss.
The best way to prevent these injuries is to let professionals handle lighting and shooting fireworks. For most, this means going to a local firework display rather than setting off your own.
At professional displays, respect safety barriers and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away. If there are undetonated fireworks at the display, report them to the local police or fire department.
If you choose to shoot off your own fireworks, follow these safety tips:
Keep fireworks away from young children and supervise young adults on the grounds.
Set off fireworks in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves, grass, and flammable material.
Never keep fireworks in a glass or metal container.
It’s estimated that 65% of people injured by fireworks are bystanders. Make sure people are a safe distance away before setting off a firework.
Eye injury prevention starts at home. While people mistakenly believe most eye injuries occur at work, nearly half happen in or around the house.
Most home-related eye injuries occur during three activities: yard work, home improvement tasks, and cleaning and cooking.
A typical summer comes packed with outdoor chores. Some of these tasks, such as mowing the lawn and clipping the hedges, pose risks to the eyes.
Both mowing and clipping kick up dirt and debris, which can land in the eye.
The drilling and hammering involved in home repair projects present another risk to the eyes. Home improvement accessories such as screws, nails, and hand tools can fly into the air and hit the eye.
Additionally, debris from home improvement projects, such as wood chips and sawdust, can land in the eyes.
Chemical splashes from everyday cleaning products are a common cause of domestic eye injuries. Bleach alone causes 125,000 eye injuries every year.
In the kitchen, grease and oil splatters can also cause burns and eye irritation.
Eye injury prevention at home is relatively simple. Wearing protective eyewear during home projects and cleaning is the best prevention for eye injuries at or around the house.
Unfortunately, only 30% of people wear protective eyewear when engaging in activities that pose a threat to the eyes. Simply wearing proper eyewear can prevent 90% of eye injuries around the house.
We recommend each household have at least one pair of ANSI (American National Standards Institute) approved protective eyewear for home projects.
The warm weather during the summer months presents a great reason to engage in sports and recreational activities. These activities are a fantastic way to stay healthy and in shape, but they are a leading cause of eye injuries.
More than 40% of eye injuries occur during sports or recreational activities with US emergency rooms treating around 30,000 sports-related eye injuries yearly. Many of these come from activities such as water sports, basketball, and cycling.
More sunlight is why many of us love summer. However, the UV light from the sun poses a risk to our skin and eyes.
Over-exposure to the sun puts patients at risk for:
Growths on the eye such as pterygium
Sunburn in the eyes
Just like people remember to bring a bottle of sunscreen in hot sunny weather for their skin, they should also come prepared with a pair of sunglasses to protect their eyes. To ensure proper safety, glasses should provide 100% UV or UV400 protection.
Hats can also block UV rays from getting into the eyes. Broad-brimmed hats work best for protection from the sun. Even with protection, avoid staring directly at the sun.
The sun is strongest during the afternoon. If possible, avoid outdoor activities during this peak of the day.
Have a safe eye injury prevention month! For more information about eye injury prevention, contact Dr. Besser’s office or reach out to an ophthalmologist in your area.
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