July is National Eye Injury Prevention month. As eye care professionals, we’ve dedicated our entire career to helping people keep their vision healthy throughout life. Protecting your eyes from injury is one of the simplest ways to safeguard your vision. And, when injury can’t be prevented, timely treatment is the key to preserving your eyesight for years to come.
Preventing Eye Injuries
Knowing your risk of eye injury is the first step in prevention. Men are at a higher risk to suffer from eye injuries than women. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and American Society of Ocular Trauma, nearly half of all eye injuries occur at home. Performing home repairs, yard work, cleaning, and cooking are the cause of nearly 40% of at-home eye injuries. Eye injuries that happen outside of the home commonly occur during recreational activities such as playing sports, or, less frequently, at work.
It’s reported that more than 78% of people were not wearing eye protection at the time of their eye injury. Eye protection comes in many forms—safety glasses, goggles, sunglasses, etc.—and wearing eye protection is the single most important thing you can do to prevent eye injuries.
Caring for Eye Injuries
Trauma to the eye may cause serious complications such as slow bleeding, increase pressure in the eye, or vision loss. Oftentimes the severity of an injury can only be seen by a doctor during an examination.
Common eye injury symptoms to look out for:
- Injury to the eyelid, such as a cut or tear
- Difficulty seeing
- Persistent pain in the eye
- Changes in eye movement
- Unusual pupil shape or size
- Sensation that there is something stuck in the eye
If you believe your eye has been scratched, do not rub or apply pressure to the eye. Place a protective shield or patch over the eye and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
In the case of injury caused by a foreign object or small particle in the eye, try flushing the object out with running water or saline solution. If this doesn’t result in removal of the particle, seek medical attention.
If you’ve been hit in the eye, apply a cold compress to help reduce swelling with very light pressure and seek medical attention.
Remember, even if the eye injury seems minor, it’s important to see an ophthalmologist or other medical doctor.