Eye injuries can occur under many different circumstances. Whether participating in sports, home projects, recreation or crafts, it’s important that children of all ages wear proper eye protection to prevent eye injuries that could cause long-term damage.
Each year, thousands of children suffer eye injuries — some resulting in blindness — but more than 90 percent of these could be prevented with protective eyewear. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), many eye injuries occur in sports, with baseball being the most common sport to cause eye injuries in children between the ages of five and 14.
Parents, teachers and coaches can take steps to protect the eyes — and vision — of children. Here are some tips to help prevent children’s eye injuries:
- Children should always wear sports eye protection made with polycarbonate lenses, particularly when playing baseball, basketball, football, racquet sports, soccer, hockey, lacrosse or paintball.
- Keep chemicals and sprays out of the reach of small children.
- Teach children safe usage of common items, such as scissors, pencils, rubber bands, bungee cords, hangers, etc.
- Purchase age-appropriate toys for your children and look for toys marked with “ASTM,” meaning the product meets national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
- Avoid projectile toys, including: darts or bows and arrows.
- Model eye safety by wearing your own protection when playing sports, working with tools, mowing the lawn, etc.
- Remove potential hazards in your home by installing safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases; padding sharp corners and putting locks on cabinets and doors.
- Do not allow children near fireworks, especially bottle rockets and other projectile fireworks.
- Keep children properly secured in a car seat when traveling in a vehicle. Children under 12 should never ride in the front seat. Properly store any loose items in the vehicle that may become a projectile in the event of a crash.
- Keep an eye on children around dogs, and remove any dog that has bitten a child from the home.
If your child or a child in your care has suffered an injury to the eye, seek immediate medical attention from a primary care doctor, eye doctor or school nurse. Delaying medical attention could lead to permanent damage or vision loss. Remember these First Aid tips from the AAO when dealing with an eye injury:
- Do not touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye.
- Do not attempt to remove any object stuck in the eye. If small debris is caught in the eye, gently lift the eye lid and ask the child to blink rapidly. This may flush out the debris, but if not, seek medical help.
- Do not apply ointment or medication to the eye.
• Gently cover any puncture wounds or cuts and seek medical treatment.
• In the event of a chemical exposure, flush the eye with water and seek treatment.