Eye safety can be easily overlooked, sometimes to our own detriment and a lifetime of regret.
Imagine that yesterday you could see perfectly well, but after an accident, today you're only partially sighted — to the extent that you can no longer drive or read. Your life has changed dramatically, never to be the same again.
Now imagine that you could have prevented all of this simply by wearing safety glasses or observing other eye safety rules.
According to Prevent Blindness America (PBA), an estimated 2.4 million eye injuries occur in the United States each year, and nearly 1 million Americans have lost some degree of eyesight from an eye injury.
Yet experts say wearing safety glasses and taking other common-sense precautions can prevent or reduce the severity of more than 90 percent of these eye injuries.
PBA says the most common agents of eye injuries at work include:
At home, household cleaners and chemicals are common causes of eye injuries. Other causes include:
Blunt trauma (someone or something hitting your eye) causes many sports-related eye injuries. Besides another player's body, hand or finger, other causes of eye injuries during sports include:
In most cases, simple precautions can help you prevent eye injuries at work, home and play.
Avoid distractions when doing anything that could potentially harm your eyes. Resist the temptation to "multi-task" when working with tools or other objects near your eyes. And always wear safety glasses, protective goggles or other sports eyewear for greater eye safety when the situation calls for it.
If you suffer any eye injury, contact your optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately for advice.
Most eye doctors have emergency contact numbers for injuries that occur after normal business hours or on weekends.
Depending on the situation, your eye doctor may want you to flush your eye with water or saline solution prior to your office visit. Or he or she may recommend you immediately go to the hospital emergency room.
If you wear contact lenses, tell the doctor, who will advise you about whether to remove them or leave them in.
If you work with chemicals, your workplace should have a sink area where you can flush your eyes with water if a chemical splashes or otherwise invades your eyes. Flush your eyes for several minutes to dilute and rinse out any chemicals that may have contacted your eyes.
When in doubt, treat all eye injuries as potential emergencies, and contact or visit an eye doctor immediately if you have urgent eye safety concerns.
Remember, you have only one pair of eyes. Take good care of them!