“The world is beautiful; but only those blessed with eyesight will know so.”
Ever imagined a world without light and colors? Sounds gloomy, right?
Eyes play a very vital role in enabling us to live a fuller and happier life. Good eyesight is essential for performing numerous day to day tasks properly and with ease.
An eye injury can damage vision and cause blindness. It happens so quickly, in fact in the blink of an eye, that one has no time to react. That is why it is so important to protect eyes. Eye injuries range from simple instances like soap or shampoo getting into the eye, to severe lacerations and penetrating injuries that can cause scarring, and partial or complete blindness. Using safety measures can prevent 90 per cent of all injuries. An eye injury can happen just about anywhere, such as in the kitchen, yard, workstation, playground etc.
Some of the common causes are:
- Flying objects
Nearly half of eye injuries occur at home due to cleaning solutions, bleach, while cooking, drilling, hammering, opening a champagne bottle, etc.
At work, injuries occur when exposed to air borne fragments, while cutting, drilling or grinding metals, timber, etc. Even employees who work in offices run the risk of getting eye injuries. Sports injuries are common in children and young adults.
Common sports where eye protection is recommended, are:
- Indoor racquet sports
- Base ball
- Basket ball
Protection is as important for the spectators as for the players.
Chemical injury can cause vision threatening complications. Alkali injures (e.g. drain cleaners) are more dangerous than acid injuries (e.g. car batteries).
Prolonged sun exposure can cause retinopathy due to the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays.
How to recognize an injury?
- There is severe pain and disturbance in vision.
- There may be watering of eyes, burning sensation, light sensitivity or foreign body sensation.
- Eyelid/s may be cut or torn.
- The injured eye does not move in all directions freely.
- There is blood in the white part of the eye (subconjunctival hemorrhage).
- One eye looks more prominent.
- There is difference in the size of the pupils of both eyes.
What to do when an injury occurs?
- Do not touch, rub or apply pressure over the eye.
- Do not try to remove any object that appears to have penetrated the eye.
- Do not apply any medication or ointment.
- In case of chemical injury, flush the eyes with plenty of clean water.
- The affected eye should be washed for 20 to 30 minutes. It is best to wash the eye in running water like a running tap, shower or water fountain with the eye open.
- In case of lid swelling, one can place some ice over the face to reduce the swelling and keep the head end elevated.
- Gently place a shield or gauze patch over the eye, until you get medical help.
- An eye injury is to be treated as an emergency, and the person attended to preferably by an ophthalmologist immediately.
Prevention is better than cure
This statement stands very true, as most eye injuries are preventable. Many a times, an injured eye cannot be cured completely. Being prepared for an emergency by being equipped with all the safety measures and quick action is the best solution.
- Use of protective eye wear; goggles, face shields and helmets are the various options depending on the kind of work or activities.
- When using household chemicals and cleaning solutions, read the labels, use them with caution and keep them away from children.
- Make sure spray nozzles are directed away from your face.
- Be careful while cooking; use grease shields on frying pans, and be careful with pressure cookers.
- Supervise your child’s use of tools like pencils, scissors, forks, knives, etc. and guide them as to how to handle them.
- Purchase age appropriate toys.
- Avoid projectile toys like darts, bow and arrows, etc.
- Keep children away from guns, rifles, fireworks, etc.
Protective eye wear
Eye protection means more than just wearing contact lenses or glasses for vision correction. The type of protection depends on the kind of work or activity involved. The Americans have come up with different standards for protective eye wear for different activities, like the ANSI (American National Standard Institute) approved eye wear for home activities, and the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) guidelines for eye safety measures in different sports. There are special ultraviolet protecting goggles for skiing, swimming goggles, and occupational safety and health administration standards for different work activities. To shed light on the importance of safe vision, October has been declared as the National Eye Injury Prevention Month.
India has a long way to go yet, in setting standards for eye protection, as is evident from the large number of preventable eye injuries that we witness. Wearing a goggle could have saved the eye for life, in many instances. So, it is time that we all get eye smart and practice eye care and safety measures. It is surprising just how many tasks and objects we encounter on a daily basis that can potentially cause severe vision problems.
Safe eyes – Healthy vision!