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Seven Ways to Prevent Injuries to Your Eyes

Over 1 million Americans suffer from eye injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), and 90 percent of them could be prevented by taking the appropriate safety precautions.

prevent eye injuries

Some 90 percent of eye injuries could be avoided if safety precautions were taken, according to AAO.

We do come equipped with a bit of protection in the form of eyelids, eyelashes, tears and a bony facial structure, but when it comes to flying debris, chemicals, ultraviolet light, sports and more, these protections simply aren't enough.

What are the most common causes of eye injuries? Accidents, according to a 2006 Eye Injury Snapshot conducted by AAO, caused 84 percent of injuries. Specifically, injuries were most likely to be caused by:

  • Projectiles

  • Blunt objects

  • Fingers, fists or other body parts

  • Sharp objects

What is it worth to you to protect your sight? Just taking a few minutes to read through the seven safety tips below can protect your eyes whether you're at home, at work or anywhere in between.

  1. Wear sunglasses. Bright sunlight can burn your eyes just like it can your skin, and over time sun-damaged eyes can become more susceptible to cataracts, macular degeneration and other serious eye diseases.

    "This is not about one-time exposure; the sun has a cumulative effect and causes damage over a lifetime," says Dr. Nathalie Azar, M.D., a pediatric ophthalmologist at the University of Illinois in an ABC News article. "This damage can cause someone to get cataracts at an earlier age. Just as it does to the skin, repeated exposure to UV light can cause damage to the eyes."

    The sunglasses should be both UVA- and UVB-protective, and be sure to also get a pair for your child. Wide-brimmed hats also help to protect your eyes from the sun.

  2. Wear protective eyewear for home/work projects. Most people don't wear protective eyewear nearly as often as they should. But just because a rock didn't fly out from underneath your lawnmower last Saturday doesn't mean one never will. Here is a top list of projects that should always be done with protective eyewear:

    • Using a lawnmower, power trimmer or edger

    • Using power tools

    • Chopping wood

    • Hammering nails

    • Welding

    • Anytime there will be dust, sparks, chemicals or stray fragments potentially flying around

    Be sure to buy protective eyewear that meets the American National Standards Institute Safety Standards (it will say "ANSI Z87.1" on the side). Sunglasses do not cut it!

  3. Wear appropriate safety gear during sports. There are about 40,000 sports-related eye injuries in the United States each year. Whatever the sport -- hockey, baseball, paintball, etc. -- be sure you are geared up with all of the sport-appropriate eye protection there is.

  4. Be careful when jumping your car. An improperly jumped car can spew battery acid, sparks or other debris. You should keep safety goggles made of splash-proof polycarbonate in your trunk to be safe.

prevent eye injuries

Keep your home safe for your children's eyes by covering sharp corners on furniture, appliances, countertops and more.

  1. Avoid dangerous games. You may be tempted to buy your child (or yourself) BB guns, darts, slingshots or other dangerous projectiles. However, these can cause serious accidental eye injury.

  2. Forgo fireworks. The Fourth of July has come and gone, but next year resist the temptation to shoot off your own fireworks' show. Why? One in 20 people whose eyes are injured by fireworks end up losing all of their vision or having to have their eye removed.

  3. Make your home "eye-safe." You've likely safety-proofed your home for falls and burns, but what about for your (and your child's) eyes? Keep detergents and other eye irritants safely locked away, along with sharp objects like clothes hangers. Also teach your children not to run with sharp objects in their hands and cover sharp furniture corners (children are especially vulnerable to injuring themselves on sharp edges).

Recommended Reading

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

What Causes Dark Circles Under the Eyes? How Can You Prevent Them?


American Academy of Ophthalmology: Eye Care America July 11, 2007

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