Workplace safety programs place a high priority on eye injury prevention. And no wonder: Work-related eye injuries cost businesses up to $300 million a year.
But the job site isn’t the only place that holds potential dangers to your eyes. “Of the 2 million or more eye injuries each year, half occur at home,” says Dr. Adam Quinn, eye surgeon with Hattiesburg Eye Clinic. “And just as in the workplace, most of these can be prevented.”
In recognition of Eye Injury Prevention Month in October, here are some common sources of home-related eye injuries and how you can prevent them.
Cooking and cleaning. Household chores may seem harmless, but there are some hidden dangers to your eyes. Popping grease landing in an eye from a hot frying pan without a splatter screen can cause thermal burns. Splashing household cleaners can likewise cause chemical burns, something goggles or face shields could prevent. If, however, the latter scenario does happen, Dr. Quinn advises flushing your eyes with running water for about ten minutes and getting immediate medical attention.
Home and garden. Nowadays, working on home improvement projects or out in the yard often involves power equipment. Tools like mowers, trimmers or saws can propel loose objects like rocks or splinters of wood at high speed. If your eyes get in the path of one of these projectiles, you could experience a severe eye injury. “As with power tools at work, the best way to prevent similar kinds of injuries at home is to wear protective eye wear,” says Dr. Quinn.
Sun protection. While you’re packing sunscreen for an outing, don’t forget to include eye protection from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. “You can sustain long-term damage from UV radiation if you spend extended time in the sun or areas with wide expanses of sand or snow that could reflect even more of the sun’s rays,” says Dr. Quinn. “While out in the sun, you’ll want to wear eyewear like sunglasses or ski goggles rated to block UVA and UVB rays.”
Special occasions. An eye injury can quickly ruin a holiday or special occasion. It’s easy to have an eye poked by sharp points or wires associated with Christmas trees and decorations, so watch how you place them around your home. Be sure you also make safety a high priority with DIY fireworks—never point or throw a lit firework at another person, never lean directly over fireworks to light them, and be sure you supervise children closely, even with sparklers (which can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit).
And since it’s the season for Halloween, you should also be aware of another potential eye hazard.
“Decorative contact lenses are very popular with Halloween costuming, but they can cause eye injuries like scratches, tears or infections,” says Dr. Quinn. “Although they’re intended for fun, decorative lenses are still medical devices, so make sure you’re purchasing FDA-approved lenses.” For the safest approach, Dr. Quinn advises having your vision provider examine your eyes first and then write you a prescription for an appropriate pair.
Any eye injury, whether at home, at work or at play, can be a serious or even tragic event. You can greatly lower the risk, however, with common sense prevention. “Safety first” is the best way to protect your family’s eyes.
For more about protecting your eyes from injury, visit us at HattiesburgEyeClinic.com. To learn more about how Hattiesburg Eye Clinic can improve your family’s vision health, call 601-268-5910 (or toll-free 800-624-8254) or schedule a consultation with us.