The month of October is notable for its increasingly shorter days, the sudden appearance of pumpkins everywhere, and the anticipation of Halloween parties and trick or treating. But did you know it is also Eye Injury Prevention Month? While eye safety should be a year-round concern, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), nearly 2.5 million people suffer eye injuries every year, many of which result in partial or total vision loss. Therefore, in order to help prevent painful, costly, and potentially debilitating eye injuries from occurring, the USC Roski Eye Institute would like to remind people of all ages about the importance of taking preventative measures to ensure their vision stays healthy and strong every month of every year.
Most Common Eye Injuries and Protective Eyewear You Should Wear
When considering where most eye injuries occur, most people automatically think of the workplace, and while certain job sites, such as construction zones, machine shops, and even healthcare facilities, have more open and obvious potential dangers for the eyes, at least half of all injury accidents that affect the eyes actually occur in the home. In many workplaces, protective eyewear is not only advised, it is often a mandatory precaution. However, there isn’t the same emphasis on eye safety at home or when out and about in day-to-day life.
As a reminder, some of the most common causes of eye damage include:
- Sun Exposure: Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause significant damage to the eyes, even causing corneal sunburns from extreme overexposure. It is important to wear sunglasses that block 100 percent UVA and UVB rays as well as a hat with a wide brim when outdoors, while driving, or while playing sports. Sunlight reflecting off of pavement, snow, or water can be particularly harmful if the eyes are not protected, so having a good pair of polarized sunglasses can reduce this kind of sun exposure.
- Sports-related Accidents: Blunt trauma from a fall or forceful impact while playing sports can cause significant damage to the eye and orbital socket if left unprotected. There’s a reason many professional athletes wear helmets with face guards or protective goggles. When competing, the last thing you should have to risk is your eyesight. Whether playing for fun on the weekend or participating in a league, always wear the appropriate safety gear. In the event of severe trauma, oculoplastic plastic surgery may be necessary.
- Chemical Exposure: We are surrounded by a variety of household and everyday products that contain harmful chemicals that could severely damage one’s eyes. From cleaning products, pesticides, car batteries, and even cooking products, without protective glasses, a single splash or even fumes can inadvertently irritate or injure the eye. Always read the labels on new products and follow the instructions to prevent eye injury.
- Makeup and Costume Contacts: With Halloween around the corner, more people will be applying makeup near their eyes and putting novelty contacts on their eyes for the sake of a convincing costume. Whether you are an avid makeup artist or trying out a new costume idea, remember to avoid putting cosmetics too close to your eyes, throw out expired products, and do not use costume contacts, which can cause eye irritation and potential permanent damage.
How to Treat an Eye Injury
If an accident occurs and you or a loved one has suffered an eye injury, remember the following safety tips to protect your eyes as much as possible:
- Do not touch or rub the eye
- Do no apply pressure or medications
- Do not remove any object that may be stuck
- Shield or protect the eye
- Only flush the eye with clean water in case of chemical exposure or burn
- Seek emergency attention immediately!
Get an Annual Eye Exam at USC Roski Eye Institute
In the event of an eye injury, it is important to stay calm and seek professional medical help, especially from an ophthalmologist. To ensure that your vision is healthy all year long, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with the skilled ophthalmologists at USC Roski Eye Institute for a thorough exam. If your eyes are slowly suffering the effects of age, UV exposure, or other illness, our exceptional eye doctors can catch and treat the condition before it becomes worse.
To support the USC Roski Eye Institute, please make a tax-deductible gift by contacting Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, at 323.442.5396 or via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu today!