— The U.S. Eye Injury Registry estimates that each year Americans suffer over two million eye injuries.
— The American Academy of Ophthalmology2 and the American Society of Ocular Trauma report that close to 45% of these injuries take place at home.
— Over 40% of eye injuries were caused by work related to home repairs, yard work, cleaning and cooking. Another 40% occurred during sports or recreation.
— Over one-third of injuries took place in the living areas in the home – places like the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and family room.
— There are 125,000 eye accidents a year involving household chemicals3. This totals over 10% of the total at-home eye injuries.
What’s even more sobering? It’s estimated that 90% of eye injuries can be prevented.
Building Public Awareness about Eye Injury at Home
Statistics like these explain why Prevent Blindness, a national advocacy group, has made October “Home Eye Safety Month”. Adding to the topic’s visibility, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has designated October “Eye Injury Prevention Month”.
What makes this story important is the large number of eye injuries that take place at home. Most workplaces are required by law to have safety programs, but what we do in our homes to protect our loved ones is largely up to us.
Everyday Eye Safety
It doesn’t take an enormous effort to make your home safer and greatly reduce the chances of eye injury. Here are some examples:
— Yardwork and Power Tools: If you’re plugging it in, charging it up, or filling it with gas, you probably should be wearing safety glasses. Portable power tools, lawn mowers and blowers, table-top saws and drills – they harness huge amounts of energy that can send dangerous objects airborne. Follow manufacturers’ safety guidelines and wear ANSI approved protective eyewear4.
— Sports: Consider this – the sport that reports the most eye injuries is basketball, followed by water sports like swimming, surfing, water skiing and tubing5. The point? Protective eyewear isn’t just for baseball and hockey. You and your children should be using certified, sports-specific safety glasses anytime there’s a risk from flying objects and collisions.
— Household Chemicals6: Cleaning solutions, paints, bleach, oil, gasoline and other chemicals can cause major eye injuries. Store them in secure areas away from children; read and follow warning and use labels; don’t mix cleaning agents; and remember that regular eyeglasses often don’t provide the right level of protection.
— Details Matter: The small stuff adds up. Well secured rugs and sturdy railings prevent unexpected spills. The sharp edges of furnishings and fixtures can be a hazard to young children and the elderly – cushioning and covers can cut the risk. Grease shields on frying pans can shield the eyes from the hot spatter. Learn more how to protect you and your family at the Prevent Blindness and American Academy of Ophthalmology websites.
Much of what constitutes smart home eye safety is common sense. Safety glasses during home maintenance and repairs. Protective eyewear for most sports. Safe handling of chemicals, cleaning products and fuels. Set some time aside in October to look over your home, check your tools and sports gear, and take the steps to make them more eye-safe for you and your family.