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The Top 10 Causes of Eye Injuries ... and How You Can Prevent Them

Each year, about 1 million eye injuries occur in the United States. In a 2005 "snapshot" of U.S. eye injuries, conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 88 percent of the reported injuries were accidental, and most (42 percent) occurred in the home.

In fact, common objects people deal with day-in and day-out can be extremely dangerous to the eyes. According to the U.S. Eye Injury Registry, 90 percent of eye injuries in the home could be prevented if precautions were taken. Here we've compiled some of the leading causes of eye injuries and urge you to play it safe when it comes to your eyes.

eye injuries

About 90 percent of home eye injuries could be prevented if precautions were taken.

1. Household Chemicals

Chemicals like bleach, ammonia, cleaning agents, pesticides and others can burn your eyes' delicate tissues. When using any chemicals in your home, wear goggles, make sure the area is well-ventilated and be sure the nozzle is pointed away from your face before you spray.

2. Workshop and Yard Debris

Power tools, lawn mowers, trimmers and weed whackers all pose potential hazards to your eyes. Be sure that all of your power tools are in good condition and only operate them with the safety features engaged. You should also make sure that any rocks and debris are cleared from your lawn before mowing (so they don't get propelled into your face while cutting), and wear protective goggles when using any power equipment to shield your eyes from dust, debris, sparks, fumes and more.

3. Battery Acid

It's important to wear protective goggles before attempting to jump-start your car battery (you can keep them with your jumper cables). The goggles should be splash-proof polycarbonate and have a Z-87 label (which means they are certified for use during auto repairs).

Also be careful not to smoke or use anything that could spark near the battery, as this could cause gasses in the battery to explode.

4. Sports Accidents

There are about 40,000 sports-related eye injuries in the United States each year. Some of the most dangerous sports for the eyes are baseball, hockey, basketball, lacrosse, football, soccer, racquetball, fishing (fishhooks) and paintball. Studies have shown that about 90 percent of sports-related eye injuries could be prevented by using protective eyewear (just be sure you have the correct eyewear for each different sport).

5. Overexposure to Ultraviolet (UV) Light

UV light from the sun, tanning beds, and welding arcs can damage the eyes. Sunlight is particularly risky when it's reflected off sand, water or pavement, and can actually burn the eye's surface in these circumstances.

To protect the eyes from UV sunlight, wear sunglasses that block UV rays (they should block 99 or 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays) and wear a hat with a wide brim. Further, protective eyewear should always be worn when using a tanning bed or while welding.

slingshot danger

Mom was right! Projectile toys like slingshots, pellet or BB guns and air-powered rifles can seriously injure the eyes.

6. Fireworks

There are about 8,500 fireworks-related injuries in the United States each year, with over 2,000 of these affecting the eyes. Injuries involving fireworks are dangerous, with one in 20 victims losing all useful vision or having to have an injured eye removed. About 10 percent of children injured by fireworks also suffer permanently by losing an eye, finger, hand or other serious injury.

The best prevention when it comes to fireworks is to simply not use them (even sparklers are hot enough to melt gold), and take in your town's professional show instead.

7. Toys and Games

Avoid giving children toys with sharp points, protruding edges or projectile parts, such as darts, BB guns, slingshots, bows and arrows or air-powered rifles, as they can cause serious eye injuries and even blindness. Only give children toys that are age-appropriate and always supervise them while playing.

8. Furniture Corners

Sharp corners and edges on furniture, home fixtures, cabinets and windowsills can easily injure the eyes (children are particularly vulnerable to falling into a sharp furniture edge). Furniture corner protectors are inexpensive (just $2.99 for a four-pack) and can be applied to soften the edges.

9. Work-Related Injuries

Industry workers, including automotive workers, welders, plumbers, construction workers, machine operators and carpenters, are especially at risk of eye injuries. Over 100,000 workers are disabled due to eye injury with vision loss each year. Workers in industrial-related positions should always wear protective eyewear (marked with "Z87" on the lens or frame).

10. Airbags

Airbags in vehicles can greatly reduce your chances of being seriously injured in an automobile accident. However they can also cause trauma to the eye when inflated. To reduce your risk of airbag-related eye injuries, sit far enough back in your seat with the seatbelt and shoulder harness fastened. If the car has side airbags, avoid resting your head on the door. Children should always be seated in the backseat to avoid coming in contact with an airbag.

Recommended Reading

Does Sitting Too Close to The TV Really Damage Your Eyes?

Lutein: Are You Getting Enough of This Anti-Aging Antioxidant Powerhouse?


American Academy of Ophthalmology

Medem Medical Library

Prevent Blindness America

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