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Avoiding Eye Injuries at Home

These days a lot of us are spending more time at home. We might be working remotely, cooking more rather than eating out, and having our recreation at home. Home improvement centers report that many people are taking advantage of today’s enforced confinement to quarters by doing more gardening, and tackling household repairs and remodeling—often DIY projects.

Did you know that these activities can pose a risk of eye injury? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), 2.4 million people in the U.S. suffer an eye injury each year. On average, more than half of those injuries happen at home—and it stands to reason that these days, that percentage is higher!

The AAO warns of common causes of eye injuries in the home:

  • Slipping on the floor or falling down the stairs are the most common causes of eye injury at home; most of those falls happen to adults older than 60.
  • Everyday chemicals such as oven cleaner or bleach can cause severe eye damage.
  • Splashed in the eye, hot grease, or oil can cause serious burns.
  • Home improvement projects. Drilling or hammering can send screws, nails, or debris flying; solvents also can be dangerous.
  • A hot curling iron or hairdryer can cause serious eye injury.
  • Objects can be ejected with great force from lawnmowers and hedge clippers.

The AAO also notes that people can be injured at home with sports or yard games equipment, even bungee cords and popular resistance bands. And sadly, with tensions high and people cooped up together during the pandemic, experts tell us there has been an increase in injuries caused by domestic violence and elder abuse.

According to Prevent Blindness, a leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight, one important way to protect our eyes is to wear protective eyewear when appropriate. Wear safety glasses or dust goggles to protect against flying particles, and chemical goggles to protect against exposure to fertilizers and pesticides.

Protective eyewear should be approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The eyewear should have the “Z-87” logo stamped on the frames. It’s important not to assume that your usual glasses or sunglasses will provide the protection you need.

Here are some other tips from Prevent Blindness:

  • Lower the risk of falls with improved lighting and handrails.
  • Inspect and remove debris from lawnmowers before mowing.
  • Keep paints, pesticides, fertilizers, and other hazardous products properly stored in a secure area.
  • Keep tools in good condition; replace them if they are damaged.
  • Read and follow all manufacturer instructions on warning labels.
  • Do not mix cleaning agents.

“When we’re at home, it’s tempting to think we aren’t susceptible to dangers, but most eye accidents happen at home when we’re doing things like working in the yard, cleaning the house, or repairing a broken item,” said Hugh R. Parry, former president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “We urge everyone to monitor their surroundings and take the necessary precautions to help ensure the gift of sight lasts a lifetime.”

The information in this article is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you or a loved one experiences an eye injury, contact your doctor or ophthalmologist right away.

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