More than 2.5 million eye injuries occur each year, 50,000 of which result in permanent loss of vision. The risk for such injuries greatly increases during the summer months as adults and children alike head outdoors often times without proper eye protection. Dr. Pam Brown of The Chili Vision Group says taking simple safety steps can save big on your health in the coming months and for years to come.
"You can reduce eye injuries from outdoor activities and sports by 90 percent by wearing protective eye gears," says Dr. Brown. "Industry research has found that nearly 15 percent of eye injuries occur during sports activities, and those sports that are played with small objects traveling at high speeds such as baseball, tennis, and golf, tend to lead to the most serious of injuries."
Dr. Brown recommends athletic eyeglasses, goggles, or eye guards that have at minimum 3-mm polycarbonate lenses. "Ask your eye care provider for their opinion on proper fit and vision ability," says Dr. Brown. "Also be sure to check with athletic officials and coaches to make sure they meet player guidelines, too."
Goggles aren't only good for the athletic field, notes Dr. Brown. "Lakes, rivers, ponds, and even pools and hot tubs can harbor bacteria and microorganisms that can be harmful to the eye. Even the chlorine and other pool chemicals that fight these bacteria off can cause long-lasting damage to the cornea. Many times, if infection is ignored, patients have to undergo eye transplants to improve or even restore damaged vision."
Dr. Brown says should you go for a dive without eye wear, be sure to alert your eye care provider of and redness, itching, burning, or blurred vision that lasts more than XXX hours. Further, Dr. Brown suggests cleansing eye contacts if applicable following a swim.
Also of value, sunglasses. While many adults wear them, only 58 percent of parents put them on their children -- a dangerous move since eyes receive 80% of their lifetime UV exposure by the time a child turns 18 years old. "Select a pair whose label reads 99 - 100 percent UVA and UVB," says Dr. Brown. "Add a wide-brimmed hat for additional protection, too."
For summer nights spent watching fireworks, Dr. Brown has safety advice, too. "Each year, more than 9,000 fireworks injuries occur in the U.S., and 30% of those affect the eyes," says Dr. Brown. "One-fourth of those injuries lead to permanent vision loss, and kids under the age of 15 account for half of all firework injuries."
Dr. Brown says your best bet is to leave the installation and lighting of fireworks to professionals. "Protect yourself by knowing your role in summer time fun. Like most things in life, prevention is key."