People are very protective of their eyes. I notice this all the time in doing an eye exam in that people are tentative when you bring objects close to them. So it boggles my mind that people are so nonchalant when it comes to eye safety when they are outside of my office.
Did you know that in the US there are nearly 2000 eye injuries in the workplace on a daily basis? And that that accounts for only about half of the eye injuries that occur? Nearly 45% of all eye injuries occur in or around the home. That means that there are nearly 4500 eye injuries per day in the US alone. Sports or recreational injuries account for nearly 2 out of 5. Consider these statistics:
- 90% of all eye injuries can be prevented by wearing the proper protective eyewear.
- Only one in three people wear protective eyewear when doing yard work, household chores or repairs.
- Almost all injuries to the eye occur with moving objects, but most of those objects are smaller than the head of a pin.
There are some very important things that you can do to avoid or prevent these injuries from occurring. The first starts with being aware of your surroundings and the second is to wear appropriate protective eyewear. Keep in mind the following:
- Know that regular eyeglasses will usually not provide you with enough protection.
- If you work around hazardous chemicals, wear goggles and know where the nearest sink is to be able to flush out the eyes. Remember, you may have to find it with your eyes closed. When in doubt, flush it out until told to stop by an eye professional.
- Power tools can definitely throw things back toward your eyes, but so can non-power tools like hammers. If working above your head, remember that gravity will drop things down directly into your eyes.
- Practice safety first by removing debris from hats, hair and forehead before removing your eyewear.
- Safety eyewear only works when it is in place and fits properly. And remember that just because you are done with your work does not mean that someone next to you is finished with theirs.
- Blowers and trimmers are just as dangerous as grinders when it comes to propelling objects towards your eyes at a high rate of speed.
- Wear protective eyewear at work when required. Check to see if the eyewear is ANSI Z87.1 approved.
- Wear protective eyewear during sports. Any sport with a projectile (ball, puck, stick, racket, moving object) can cause damage to the eyes. Check to see if the eyewear is ASTM F803 approved.
- Remember that projectiles can come at the eyes even in situations where it’s not expected. A dangerous example of this is champagne corks. Once you remove the protective cage, ALWAYS keep your palm on the cork and point the bottle away from bystanders. Once the cage is removed, the cork could shoot out AT ANY TIME.
- A water balloon can do far more damage to an eye than a baseball, because the force of a baseball will be expended on the bones of the face, protecting the soft tissue of an eye. The force of a thrown water balloon will be exerted smashing the eyeball into the back of the eye socket.
- Fish hooks can cause severe damage to the eye, as can bungee cords, rubber bands, fireworks and scissors. Always supervise young children when using common household items.
In our profession, I’ve found that those who are most protective of their eyes are those who have already suffered a devastating eye injury. You only get one set of eyes. We can’t avoid all possible sources of danger, but common sense and appropriate eyewear can reduce your risk of becoming a statistic. If you suffer an eye injury, however minor, it is best to consult with an eye care professional.