Topic updated: October 2012

Eye Injuries

Preventing eye injuries

About 900,000 preventable eye injuries occur each year! This means that if a few eye safety precautions are used almost one million eyes could be saved from potential blindness every year. Nearly half of all eye injuries occur around the home or during leisure activities. If you are aware of potential hazards and follow a few safety precautions, you may save your sight or the sight of a loved one.

In the home

  • Take special care when using cleaning products or harsh chemicals. Read ALL the instructions BEFORE use. Wash hands well AFTER use.
  • Wear safety goggles when using powerful chemicals to protect your eyes from splashes and fumes.
  • Make sure that spray nozzles point AWAY from you before pressing nozzle.
  • Use grease shields on frying pans to decrease spattering.

In the workshop

  • Always wear goggles or safety glasses.
  • Read the instructions for all tools and chemicals before using and follow directions for proper usage, observing any special precautions.
  • Keep all tools and power equipment in good repair.
  • Extinguish cigarettes or matches BEFORE working around flammable materials or opening the hood of the car.

Around the yard

  • Pick up rocks and twigs before mowing the lawn.
  • Keep children and others out of the area where you are mowing.
  • Wear safety glasses or goggles especially when chopping wood or trimming bushes and trees.

When playing sports

  • Observe safety rules when you play.
  • Wear safety glasses, especially for racquet sports such as tennis, squash, and racquetball. Eye injuries are common in these sports.
  • Wear protective head helmets or face protectors, when appropriate, especially for sports such as ice hockey.

Around fireworks

  • Explosive fireworks are extremely dangerous and should not be used.
  • Never allow children to ignite fireworks.
  • Do not stand near others when lighting fireworks.

A special word about children's safety

Children are especially vulnerable to eye injuries. Protect your child's vision by teaching him or her safety rules:

  • Never look directly into the sun, even wearing sunglasses.
  • Carry scissors and sharp objects carefully and correctly, never point them at anyone.
  • Never spray aerosols toward anyone's face.

Use common sense when selecting children's toys. Consider the child's age and responsibility level when choosing toys and games. Avoid projectile toys such as darts, BB guns, air rifles and slingshots.

Supervise children when they are playing with potentially dangerous toys and games. Three out of four children's eye accidents occur when no adult is present.

Reprinted by permission of the Medical College of Wisconsin HealthLink, [2004-12-03], www.healthlink.mcw.edu.

closeup of a human eye

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