Preventing eye injuries
Vision is important, so nature created several levels of protection for our eyes. First, they are surrounded by bone. Second, our eyelashes prevent dust and dirt from entering the eyes. Third, our tears effectively wash away any small bits that get past the eyelashes.
The eye tissue is very delicate and easily injured, and prevention of eye injuries is key.
Wear protective glasses whenever small particles, objects or chemicals could accidentally enter the eye. The wraparound style are best as they offer side protection, as well.
Woodworking is especially risky because of splinters, sawdust, staple guns and nails. Weed whacking can also fling small pieces of wood or pebbles into your eyes.
Pediatricians recommend that young athletes wear sports safety goggles that conform to the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. Baseball and basketball are associated with the most eye injuries.
Other parents thought I was over-protective when I made my 10-year-old son wear protective lenses while playing baseball. Until another kid was hit in the eye by a fast pitch at a batting cage. The ball shattered the bone around his eye, but luckily his vision was saved. Afterwards everyone wore safety goggles.
And learn from one of my mistakes—don’t store household chemicals in overhead shelves! Once I didn’t properly tighten the lid on a bottle of bleach before putting it away; when I reached for it, the lid fell off and the bleach just missed splashing into my eyes. Store them in lower cupboards, properly child proofed, of course.
Wear sunglasses that offer UVA and UVB protection. Even on cloudy days, the most damaging rays, the UVB rays, can cause sunburn, including sunburn of the eyes. 😎
Related reading: The UV index: Health and fitness apps
First aid for eye injuries
If a small object enters the eye and tears alone do not wash it out, use an eye wash.
- Don’t rub the eye! You might cause further injury.
- Tilt the head so that the affected eye is “down river” from the good eye (or the particles will just flow into the unaffected eye).
- Using a cup with plain, tepid water, slowly pour the water into the inner corner of the eye and let it wash over the eyeball. Position a basin to catch the water. Repeat for about 5 minutes; check to see if the object is gone.
If a chemical was splashed into the eye, continue the eyewash for at least 15 minutes, and seek medical attention. Chemicals can burn the eye tissue.
If an object cannot be removed with an eye wash, or if there is an object embedded in the eye, seek medical attention. Do not attempt to remove the embedded object! The eye is filled with fluid, and if the impaled object is removed, that fluid might leak out. And once it’s gone, it’s gone for good and vision is lost.
Related reading: First aid for puncture wounds
Protect your peepers!