It can only take an instant for your eye to be injured. Fortunately, most people will not suffer permanent vision loss with proper treatment, but even a partial vision impairment could be life-changing. About nine times out of ten, an eye injury could have been prevented if the person had been wearing protective eyewear. At Florida Eye, we hope that heightening awareness of potential dangers can help you protect your eyes and stay safe.
About Half of All Eye Injuries Happen at Home
Of the 2.5 million eye-related injuries annually in the U.S., well over a million happen in the home. The Fourth of July presents a special risk, of course. Most people rushing to the ER after a fireworks-related accident have eye-related injuries.
Children suffer half of all eye-related injuries on the Fourth. About 25% of those injuries will be permanent. No fireworks are safe. Sparklers, for example, burn at 2,000 degrees – a temperature hot enough to melt metal.
Common household tasks, however, are responsible for most eye-related injuries. Lawnmowers send objects flying right into peoples’ eyes. Making breakfast sends more people to the ER every year than fireworks. Grease splatters from frying bacon causes thousands of people to rush for emergency treatment for an eye injury every year. Common household chemicals are also responsible for many serious eye injuries.
Sporting accidents and work-related eye injuries are also far too common. Matt Imhof was training with the Phillies in 2016 when he lost his right eye in a freak accident. Professional athletes know there are dangers associated with their sport, but children don’t think about that. Most of the eye-related injuries suffered by school-age children are sports-related and the leading cause of children’s blindness.
The sports with the highest risks of eye injury for players may surprise you.
- Tennis and other Racket Sports
- Martial Arts and Boxing
Again, protective eyewear would have prevented most of those injuries but is seldom worn during the activities above.
Injuries at Work
Every day, about 2,000 people injure their eyes at work. Up to one person in five will suffer either a temporary or permanent loss of vision. OSHA regulations mandate protective eyewear for many occupations, but people don’t always follow the safety rules. Sometimes, someone is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Most Dangerous Injuries
Foreign Object or Penetration of the Eye
One of the most serious injuries is having a piece of glass or metal penetrating the eye. This is an emergency requiring treatment as soon as possible. DO NOT try to remove the object yourself or rub your eye. If you can, loosely tape a paper cup or something similar over the eye to protect it while heading for emergency care.
A small sliver of glass or metal may not penetrate deep into the eye, but become embedded in the cornea, the surface of the eye. Rust rings can form quickly as a result of a metal object and cause significant scarring. All foreign bodies should be professionally removed and treated by your Florida Eye doctor.
Chemical Injuries and Burns
Household cleaners such as ammonia or bleach are often responsible for an eye injury. Acids are also extremely dangerous and can burn the eye.
Irrigate (run water into) the eye immediately, even before calling 911. Continue to wash out your eye until help arrives. Use at least several liters of room temperature water to remove as much of the chemical as possible. Don’t overlook underneath your eyelids and anything near the eye, such as mascara, that could be contaminated by the chemical.
Any blunt trauma to the face, such as a punch, baseball or even an airbag, could damage the eye. Your eye doctor will need to perform a thorough examination to determine the extent of injury to the eye, muscles and bones.
An orbital wall fracture can occur when the thin, bony orbital walls are broken. This type of injury usually heals in a few weeks, but an examination will be needed to ensure there is no other damage needing further treatment. Traumatic iritis or swelling and inflammation as well as microscopic bleeding can occur and need treatment after a blunt trauma injury.
Corneal Abrasion or Laceration
A scratched cornea or corneal abrasion is a common eye injury. The epithelium, the top layer of the cornea, can be scraped off easily since it’s only loosely attached. This injury causes terrible pain and an extreme light sensitivity because of the many nerves in the cornea. The eye can become infected if any debris is left in the eye.
A corneal laceration is an injury deeper into the eye. In addition to the intense pain and light sensitivity, the victim will not be able to see as well. Surgical repair of the eye may be required. Blindness is a possibility.
Any eye injury is potentially very serious. Wear protective eyewear when needed and be sure to protect your children’s eyes. For more information, call Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute.