Experts say more than 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented by simply taking a few precautions and wearing safety glasses
An estimated 11,100 fireworks-related injuries (and four non-occupational deaths) were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2016, with about 7,600 of them during a one-month study period of June 18 to July 18, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
About 700 of the injuries during that month were eye injuries.
The CPSC’s “2016 Fireworks Annual Report” also included these findings for the one-month period surrounding the 2016 July 4th holiday:
Males sustained 61 percent of fireworks-related injuries; females accounted for 39 percent.
An estimated 31 percent of the injuries occurred in children younger than age 15, and 39 percent occurred in kids age 15 to 19.
The 700 eye injuries were caused mostly by sparklers, bottle rockets and multiple-tube devices. The eye injuries were mostly contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies, but about 200 incidents involved burns as well.
For children under 5 years old, sparklers accounted for half of the total number of injuries, but novelty and multiple-tube device injuries were also significant.
The parts of the body most often injured by fireworks were: hands and fingers (33 percent); head, face and ears (28 percent); legs (18 percent); trunk/other (12 percent); eyes (9 percent); and arms (8 percent). About 69 percent of all the injuries were burns.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers these safety tips for preventing eye injuries from fireworks:
Never let children play with fireworks.
View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
Only trained professionals should light fireworks.
Don’t touch any unexploded fireworks remains. Instead, notify the fire or police department.
What to do for a fireworks eye injury
If an eye injury from fireworks occurs, remember:
Seek medical attention immediately.
Do not rub your eyes.
Do not rinse your eyes.
Do not apply pressure.
Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.
Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
Summer is the season of vacation, travel, fun…it’s also a season for a few eye problems such as:
Conjunctivitis (pink eye): As summer approaches, we see a rise in patients walking into OPD with a red eye. Soon, we see their family members and friends also coming in with the same problem. The key to prevention here is good personal hygiene.
Conjunctivitis is a contagious disease, meaning it spreads by means of touch… it can be direct or indirect, i.e. the same objects being touched by a person with the infection and then by a normal person. Contrary to popular belief, conjunctivitis does not spread by looking into the patient’s eyes.
It is important to consult an Ophthalmologist since there can be several causes for the eye becoming red and one should avoid taking over-the-counter medication.
Following some simple measures may help to prevent the spread of the infection:
Avoid crowded places
Avoid sharing handkerchiefs, towels, napkins, bed sheets, pillow covers etc
It is preferable to use tissue paper or cotton swabs to wipe the eyes and then discard them, instead of using a handkerchief
Washing hands frequently, scrubbing clean
Eye allergy: In summer there is more dust, pollen and several other substances in the air, which can elicit eye allergy (allergens). Dust mites (small insects) thrive in numbers during summer. Their residue can spread in the air and elicit an allergic response in the eyes. The following tips may help:
Avoid dusty environments
When outdoors, using sunglasses acts as a physical barrier to prevent the entry of allergens into the eyes
Frequent cleaning of the eyes with clean cold water will wash away the allergens and the chemical mediators that cause itching
Keeping a cold compress on closed eyelids: A cooler temperature helps reduce itching by making chemical mediators that cause itching become less effective
If a person is known to be vulnerable to eye allergy, he/ she should visit an ophthalmologist about 4-6 weeks before summer commences, so they can begin on medicines in advance to help reduce discomfort during the season
Using a vacuum cleaner at home frequently can reduce a load of allergens
It’s fun to swim during summer, but ensure that you wear protective glasses. Also be sure of the cleanliness and appropriate level of chlorination of water.
Dry eye: Due to hot and dry climate, the tear film on the eye gets evaporated faster, causing a burning sensation and irritation in the eyes. This becomes more prominent in patients who already have a problem of dry eye. Instillation of artificial lubricating eye drops, avoiding air conditioning, etc help reduce the discomfort.
UV protection: Heavy dose of ultraviolet rays during summer can be harmful to the eyes in several ways. These can lead to the formation of pterygium (a layer) on the surface of the eye, cataract, retina problems etc. The following tips may help:
Avoid direct exposure to sunlight unless essential, during peak time of heat i.e. 10am to 2pm when the UV rays are at their strongest
To use appropriate sunglasses which block UV rays:
One should not get fooled by the color or the cost of the lenses, but look for a certificate that states that the lenses can block at least 98% of UV rays. Ideally, these glasses should wrap all around the eyes so that the sunlight does not reach the eyes from the sides
Using a hat or an umbrella when outdoors prevents direct exposure of the eyes to sunlight