Eye injuries are believed to be the most common preventible cause of blindness in the United States. More than a million people suffer eye injuries annually, typically from scratching due to excessive rubbing, chemicals splashing in the eye or an object penetrating it, bleeding, or getting struck and having swelling. Most of those injuries could have been prevented by a few simple precautions, particularly safety goggles:
- When doing yardwork, such as with a power mower or similar equipment. Grass clippings can fly up and hit you in the eye, and small stones and pebbles that get into the mechanism will come out, and often up, at high speeds.
- When playing sports, which is one of the leading causes of eye injuries. Baseball is a particular offender, with a relatively hard ball thrown at high speeds, but any sport can cause eye injuries, and a hockey puck travels even faster than a thrown baseball.
- Around the house. Chemical damage can be as bad as physical. Read labels carefully, looking for warnings not only about eye protection but about what products are not safe to mix together. When you’re working with chemicals make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area.
In addition, it’s important to be careful around fireworks, which can cause serious harm to the eyes as well as everything else if not handled properly.
If you do experience an eye injury, contact a health care professional immediately. Even a seemingly minor injury can cause serious damage if left untreated. In severe cases—such as an eye coming out of the socket entirely—go to the emergency room right away. For swelling, an ice pack should only be used while the person has his or her eye closed. The same types of injury can also cause the bones around the eye socket to fracture, which is a medical emergency. For chemical burns, after—or better yet, while—calling the doctor, flush the eye with clean water to get the chemical out. Always treat eye injury as a medical emergency.