July is national Eye Injury Prevention Month

Protecting your eyes from injury is one of the most basic things you can do to protect your vision — and the most fundamental step is to wear protective eye-wear. The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that although wearing protective eye-wear can prevent more than 90 percent of eye injuries, only about 35 percent of respondents to a national survey stated that they wore protective eye-wear when performing home repairs and maintenance and even fewer stated that they did so while playing sports.

It is interesting to note that most people believe that eye injuries are more common at work, especially at jobs such as factory work or construction, but nearly half of all eye injuries occur in the home. These injuries are caused while people are engaged in home repairs, yard work, cleaning and cooking, and more than one-third of all eye injuries occur in living areas such as the kitchen, the bedroom, bathroom or family room.

Another 40 percent of eye injuries are related to sports or recreational activities. Nearly a dozen ophthalmology agencies and organizations are working together to help reduce the rate of eye injuries by encouraging people to wear protective eye-wear.

Eyes can be damaged not just by engaging in activities but also by the sun, chemicals, dust and debris. Of all the eye injuries reported, more than 78 percent of people were not wearing eye protection at the time of the injury. This means wearing something other than corrective glasses that you use for vision correction, and actually using protective glasses or goggles.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma recommend that every household have at least one pair of American National Standards Institute approved protective eye-wear to be worn whenever doing projects or repairs or lawn work that could result in an eye injury.

To determine if the activity merits eye protection, consider if it involves the use of hazardous chemicals that could damage your eyes on contact, or if it involves flying debris or projectiles. These agencies encourage people to use common sense and set a good example for children by wearing protective eye-wear, as well as ensuring that bystanders including children have their eyes protected.

The workplace and various sports all have standard protective eye-wear. At work the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determines what level of protection is required for each job. In sports, safety standards for eye protection are posted by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Of course when on the water or in the snow, protective glasses or goggles with UV protection should be worn to protect the eyes against sunburn and glare.

When children participate in sports or recreational activities, it is imperative that they be taught eye safety. Each year, thousands of children sustain eye damage or even blindness due to accidents in the home or at play. It should be noted that most sport-related eye injuries occur in children between the ages of 5 and 14 while playing baseball. Other activities with high incidences of eye injuries among children are basketball, football, racquet sports, soccer, hockey, lacrosse and paintball.

It is common sense to keep all chemicals and sprays out of reach of small children. Also keep such items as bungee cords, paper clips, pencils, scissors, wire coat hangers and rubber bands out of reach — or make sure they are used by children only under supervision.

Purchase only age-appropriate toys for your children and avoid toys with projectiles such as bows and arrows, darts, and missile firing toys. Look for the ASTM logo on toys so that you know they have passed the American Society Testing and Materials national safety standards.

The same goes for BB guns, pellet guns and non-powder rifles which are now re-classified as firearms and removed from the toy departments. How timely that the Fourth of July takes place during Eye Injury Prevention Month. Fireworks pose a very real threat to eye safety and should be only used under supervision and preferably handled by experts.

Finally, in about 15 percent of dog attacks on small children, the eye is compromised. And in the car, loose objects on the floor can become projectiles in a crash. Make sure that your children stay safe everywhere.

Always seek medical help if an eye injury occurs. The eye tissues are delicate, so pressure, rubbing, or trying to remove a foreign object yourself could cause increased injury. Let medical personnel handle task. Better yet do all you can to prevent eye injury in yourself and your family.

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Jane Riley is certified nutritional adviser. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, (808) 212-1451 and www.janerileyfitness.com

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