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October – Home Eye Safety Month

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

October is Home Eye Safety month.   Most folks think of eye safety as something for the workplace but statistically, it is important that we zone in on the home.  According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), there are about 2.5 million eye injuries per year. Approximately 50% of those occur in or around the home.  About 50,000 people lost some degree of eyesight.  The AAO states that 90% of those injuries could be been prevented by safety eyewear yet only 35% of those surveyed always wear protective eyewear when doing home repair or projects.  Knowing the risks and how to prevent them is the first step in improving those numbers.  

Eye injuries can occur in or outside the home.  The AAO lists the following as the most common causes of injury:

Eye Injury Risks in the House

  • Using hazardous products and chemicals such as oven cleaner and bleach for cleaning and other chores (accidents involving common household products cause 125,000 eye injuries each year).

  • Cooking foods can that can splatter hot grease or oil.

  • Opening champagne bottles during a celebration.

  • Drilling or hammering screws or nails into walls or hard surfaces like brick or cement; the screws or nails can become projectiles, or fragments can come off the surface.

  • Using hot objects such as curling irons around the face; inadvertent contact with the user’s eyes can cause serious injury.

  • Loose rugs and railings or other hazards that could cause falls or slips.

Using hazardous products and chemicals such as oven cleaner and bleach for cleaning and other chores (accidents involving common household products cause 125,000 eye injuries each year).

Cooking foods can that can splatter hot grease or oil.

Opening champagne bottles during a celebration.

Drilling or hammering screws or nails into walls or hard surfaces like brick or cement; the screws or nails can become projectiles, or fragments can come off the surface.

Using hot objects such as curling irons around the face; inadvertent contact with the user’s eyes can cause serious injury.

Loose rugs and railings or other hazards that could cause falls or slips.

Injury Risks in the Yard

  • Mowing the lawn.

  • Using a power trimmer or edger.

  • Clipping hedges and bushes.

Mowing the lawn.

Using a power trimmer or edger.

Clipping hedges and bushes.

Eye Injury Risks in the Garage or Workshop

  • Using tools (power or hand).

  • Working with solvents or other chemicals.

  • Any task that can produce fragments, dust particles or other eye irritants.

  • Securing equipment or loads with bungee cord

Using tools (power or hand).

Working with solvents or other chemicals.

Any task that can produce fragments, dust particles or other eye irritants.

Securing equipment or loads with bungee cord

Friendsforsight.org reports that the most common place for an eye injury to occur is in the yard or garden.  One in four eye injuries happen during home repair.  Not all accidents can be prevented but taking a few precautions can lessen your chance of injury.  Prevent Blindness and the American Academy of Ophthalmology offer the following tips to protect your eyes:

  • Wear eye protection, this cannot be stressed enough. The AAO and the American Society of Ocular Trauma now recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear for use during projects and activities that may present risk of injury. Eye protection, such as safety goggles, protects your eyes against particles and dust, flying debris and chemicals splashes. Also note that regular corrective lenses do not protect your eyes against injury; you can easily find safety goggles that are worn over your glasses.

  • Cushion sharp corners and edges of furnishings and home fixtures if you have children or the elderly in your house.

  • Keep your tools in good condition; damaged tools should be repaired or replaced.

  • Make sure that all spray nozzles are directed away from you.

  • When using hazardous products (e.g., bleach, detergents, cleansers) never mix chemical agents or other caustic substances, always read and follow the manufacturer warnings and guidelines, and always use in well-ventilated areas.

  • To improve safety on stairs and walkways remove tripping hazards, secure rugs, install gates on stairs, and provide sufficient lighting and effective handrails. This is especially important in homes and locations where toddlers and senior citizens reside.

  • Remove debris and inspect yard and garden before beginning yard work, such as mowing or using a weed trimmer. This measure will not only protect you, but it will prevent potential injury to bystanders. Loose stones, branches, and other items can become projectiles when they come in contact with a lawn mower, weed trimmer, or hedge trimmer.

  • Remember to wash your hands after completing a task and before touching your eyes or face.

  • Be sure tools and cleaners are out of the reach of children.

  • When cooking, use shields, as this will prevent hot oils from splashing on your body, face, and especially into your eyes.

Wear eye protection, this cannot be stressed enough. The AAO and the American Society of Ocular Trauma now recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear for use during projects and activities that may present risk of injury. Eye protection, such as safety goggles, protects your eyes against particles and dust, flying debris and chemicals splashes. Also note that regular corrective lenses do not protect your eyes against injury; you can easily find safety goggles that are worn over your glasses.

Cushion sharp corners and edges of furnishings and home fixtures if you have children or the elderly in your house.

Keep your tools in good condition; damaged tools should be repaired or replaced.

Make sure that all spray nozzles are directed away from you.

When using hazardous products (e.g., bleach, detergents, cleansers) never mix chemical agents or other caustic substances, always read and follow the manufacturer warnings and guidelines, and always use in well-ventilated areas.

To improve safety on stairs and walkways remove tripping hazards, secure rugs, install gates on stairs, and provide sufficient lighting and effective handrails. This is especially important in homes and locations where toddlers and senior citizens reside.

Remove debris and inspect yard and garden before beginning yard work, such as mowing or using a weed trimmer. This measure will not only protect you, but it will prevent potential injury to bystanders. Loose stones, branches, and other items can become projectiles when they come in contact with a lawn mower, weed trimmer, or hedge trimmer.

Remember to wash your hands after completing a task and before touching your eyes or face.

Be sure tools and cleaners are out of the reach of children.

When cooking, use shields, as this will prevent hot oils from splashing on your body, face, and especially into your eyes.

For more information about home eye safety, visit these websites:

American Academy of Ophthalmology – www.aao.org

Prevent Blindness - http://www.preventblindness.org

Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville.  If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327.  

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