Eye Safety Basics

When we open our eyes every morning, we are looking at much more than a new day. Our eyes are the window into the entire world about us, and to that end they are probably the most important of our senses. Without the gift of sight we would live a diminished existence, void of any ability to do so many of the things that we take for granted on a daily basis.

What’s more, the intangibles of life; color, physical and spatial recognition and the phenomenal beauty of the world we inhabit would be lost. Without sight our perception of the world would be left only to our own imaginings and the various descriptions provided by others.

Given the incredible gift of sight, it is with some consternation that many people take unnecessary and downright dangerous chances with their eyes. Let’s take a look at the facts surrounding eye injuries, where and how these incidents take place, what we can do to avoid these accidents and what actions to take if you or someone you know gets injured.

Eye Safety Facts

Black Eye

There are a number of common causes that contribute to eye injuries and many of them are preventable. A disturbing fact is that there are an estimated 2.5 million eye-related injuries every year in the United States.

Unfortunately, about one million of these injuries results in the partial or total loss of eyesight in the affected individual. Often, these are life-changing events because diminished or lost eyesight will lead to job loss, the inability to read or to drive or to simply enjoy the amazing and beautiful world around you.

Moreover, nearly 90% of these eye injuries would be very preventable if more people would simply take a common sense approach to the things that they do.

Where Do Eye Injuries Happen?

The major areas that contribute to eye injury are the workplace, in and around the home, and in sports related activities.

In the workplace, especially manufacturing processes, flying objects such as wood, plastic, metal and glass are common culprits. Also, some work environments put workers eyes in close proximity to small or sharp tools, chemicals, solvents and acids. Another rather common source of injury is by radiation and arc light in the welding industry.

A number of dangers also lurk in and around the home environment. Amazingly, every year thousands of women suffer eye injuries from beauty products like mascara and eyelash applicators, as well as from certain eye shadow formulas. Fingernails and the mis-use of contact lenses are also high on the annual list of injuries to the eye.

As if that weren’t enough, yard equipment like leaf blowers, lawn mowers and weed eaters routinely create airborne debris that can cause eye injury to the user. Sadly, many children also suffer eye injury due to certain toys or games that have sharp corners or small parts that come loose.

Last but certainly not least on the list are injuries due to blunt trauma. Aside from industrial settings, sports activities and sports equipment are some major causes of eye damage. Many times this is due to direct impact from a ball, puck, bat, hockey stick or sports racquet. Other times, eyesight might be affected by head trauma or concussion from contact sports like football, rugby or soccer. Also, lest we forget, there are over 35,000 eye injuries each year from various types of fireworks, especially sparklers and other hand lit devices.

How Can Eye Injury Be Avoided?

In a perfect world it would seem that no one would incur eye injury unless they were really careless or reckless. Unfortunately, this is far from the reality of the situation. One of the very best ways to avoid any injury is to simply think about what you are about to do. If an activity involves working with machinery, small moving parts, or anything at all that might become airborne, then some basic and easy to use protocols should be the order of the day.

Eye Safety Glasses

Besides common sense, the best overall protection are a good pair of safety glasses or safety goggles. Keeping airborne debris or dangerous liquids from contacting the eyes is the single most effective measure anyone can take. Regular use of polycarbonate or other shatterproof safety glasses and goggles would drastically cut the high rate of eye injury and sight loss in this country. Furthermore, the cost of basic eye safety gear at your local hardware or optometry store is very negligible when it’s compared to the real and immeasurable loss of one’s eyesight.

What To Do If You Get Injured?

If someone incurs an eye injury of any kind, immediate attention is usually the very best advice. Depending upon what type of injury has taken place, several courses of action may be recommended.

First of all, call or have someone call your optometrist or family physician. Describe the nature of the injury, what material or debris was involved, and your current location. If it’s something that can be remedied in the home or workplace, they may recommend using some saline or eye wash solution to flood and remove the debris from the eye. A follow-up call advising them of the results may be required.

Of course, if the injury is more severe, they will likely advise that the person be taken to their doctors office or the nearest hospital emergency room to be evaluated and treated as quickly as possible. Your local trusted optometrist would be the first to state that the most important thing to remember about any eye injury is to never put off or delay action and treatment.

Most everyone takes their eyesight for granted, but in reality it is much too precious to lose. When it comes to your eyes, just remember that it’s always far better to be safe than sorry.