Each year in the United States, more than 2.5 million eye injuries occur and 50,000 people permanently lose part or all of their vision, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. And, a recent report from Prevent Blindness America, the nation’s oldest volunteer eye health and safety organization, shows that the annual costs related to eye injuries are more than $1.3 billion.
Eye injuries can occur from a variety of common sources, such as flying debris from lawn mowers or trimmers, or splashes from household cleaners, paints or solvents. We urge everyone to wear protective eyewear approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) when performing household activities. The eyewear should have the “Z87.1” logo stamped on the frames. For those who wear prescription glasses, many safety glasses or goggles will fit over regular glasses. Regular eyeglasses do not always provide enough protection, and may even cause further injury upon impact.
“Because most eye injuries can be avoided by wearing proper eye protection, we want the public to be diligent about protecting their vision even when doing the most mundane tasks,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. “Accidents can happen in an instant but have an impact on eye health for the rest of your life.”
Knowing what to do for an eye emergency can save valuable time and possibly prevent vision loss.
Basic eye injury first aid instructions include:
👁️ Immediately flush the eye with water or any other drinkable liquid. Hold the eye under a faucet or shower, or pour water into the eye using a clean container. Keep the eye open and as wide as possible while flushing. Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes.
👁️ DO NOT use an eyecup. DO NOT bandage the eye.
👁️ If a contact lens is in the eye, begin flushing over the lens immediately. This may wash away the lens.
👁️ Seek immediate medical treatment after flushing.
👁️ DO NOT rub the eye.
👁️ Try to let tears wash the speck out or use an eyewash.
👁️ Try lifting the upper eyelid outward and down over the lower lid.
👁️ If the speck does not wash out, keep the eye closed, bandage it lightly, and see a doctor.
👁️ Apply a cold compress without putting pressure on the eye. Crushed ice in a plastic bag can be taped to the forehead to rest gently on the injured eye.
👁️ In cases of pain, reduced vision, or discoloration (black eye), seek emergency medical care. Any of these symptoms could mean internal eye damage.
👁️ DO NOT wash out the eye with water or any other liquid.
👁️ DO NOT try to remove an object that is stuck in the eye.
👁️ Cover the eye with a rigid shield without applying pressure. The bottom half of a paper cup can be used.
👁️ See a doctor at once.