Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Eye Safety

Most of us tend to concentrate on protecting our skin during the warmer months of the year. But did you know that protecting your eyes is just as important as protecting your skin, especially while participating in certain activities at home?

Not only do your eyes need to be shielded from the sun, they also need to be protected from debris, household particles, and saltwater or chlorinated water.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 48 percent of reported eye injuries occur in the home, nearly a third of which were caused by play or sports, and more than one in five injuries were due to performing home repair or using power tools.

“Goggles or wraparound safety glasses are a smart idea for all safety concerns – in and out of the home,” says Gerami Seitzman, M.D., an ophthalmologist at the Krieger Eye Institute at Sinai Hospital. “So many injuries occur at home that are 100 percent preventable. Properly shielded eyes will be protected from flying debris while doing yard work or aerosolized sawdust from power tool use.

“Most of the eye injuries that I encounter are from work injuries in construction or welding,” says Seitzman. Eye injuries from sports such as basketball, lacrosse and tennis are also very common.

If you or your children are headed to the pool this summer, make sure to wear goggles. They will allow you to avoid eye damage when swimming in a chlorinated pool or in a large body of water such as the ocean. The chemicals in the chlorine can dry out the eyes resulting in irritation, and the high salt and dirt content in the ocean can have a similar effect.

Our eyes also need protection from other natural elements like sun rays and pollen. Sunglasses are crucial at all ages and during every season, Seitzman says. Wear sunglasses especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun's rays are the strongest.

Other tips:
-Eyewear should completely cover your eyes and provide protection from UVA and UVB rays.
-Use a cool compress and artificial tears if you have red, irritated eyes.
-Wear goggles when doing a home repair project, including woodworking.

-Betsy Haley

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