Children's Eye Safety

Eye injuries are a common cause of serious loss of vision in children. Sports and recreational activities account for more than 100,000 eye injuries each year. The National Society to Prevent Blindness estimates that 55 percent of eye injuries happen to people below age 25. Eye injuries to children have a lifelong impact, and it is, therefore, important to make every effort to prevent these injuries.

When an eye injury does occur in an young child, it is always best to have an ophthalmologist or other medical doctor examine the eye since the seriousness of the injury may not be obvious.

PREVENTION OF EYE INJURIES

Prevention is the best way to avoid the loss of vision resulting from eye injuries. It is estimated that 90 percent of all eye injuries are preventable. Since 50 percent of all eye injuries occur at school or home, proper precautions should be taken.

In the Home and Yard-

• Select games and toys appropriate for the child's age and responsibility level.

• Provide adequate supervision and instruction when children are handling potentially dangerous items, such as pencils, scissors and pen knives.

• Avoid projectile toys such as darts, pellet guns or BB guns, and bows and arrows.

• Keep all chemicals and sprays out of reach of small children.

• Be aware that even common household items, such as paper clips, rubber bands, elastic cords and fishing hooks, can cause serious eye injury.

• All fireworks can be dangerous for children of any age. Do not allow children to ignite fireworks or stand near others who are doing so.

• Do not allow children in the yard while a lawn mower is being operated. Stones can be thrown from blades causing severe eye injury.

• Demonstrate the use of protective eyewear to children by always wearing protective eyewear yourself while using power tools, rotary mowers, line lawn trimmers, or hammering on metal.

In school-

Students should wear protective goggles that meet the ANSI Z 87 Standard when participating in shop or some science labs.

In sports-

Increasing numbers of children participate in organized sports at an early age. A variety of protective eyewear is available for most sports. It is the responsibility of parents and coaches to provide protective eyewear and enforce its use. Contact lenses are not a form of protective eyewear and contact lens wearers require additional protection when participating in sports.

Parents of a child with permanently decreased visual acuity in one eye should carefully consider the risks of contact sports and injury to the good eye before allowing the child to participate in them. Approved protective eyewear is essential. Shatterproof lenses in polycarbonate or plastic frames designed for greater impact resistance which meet the ASTM Standards should be provided for children who require spectacle correction. Also protective devices should be coupled with appropriate rules, coaching, conditioning, and officiating to prevent injury.

In baseball-

A helmet with polycarbonate face shield should be used while batting and fielding.

In football-

Always use helmets and face masks. Additional protection may be added with a polycarbonate face shield insert.

In hockey-

Always use a helmet certified by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) or the Canadian Standards Association, with polycarbonate face shield or wire mask.

In skiing-

Protective glasses or goggles that filter UV and excessive sunlight exposure can be useful to prevent sunburn of the eyes.

In racquetball, tennis, soccer-

Use sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses and side shields which pass the ASTM F803 or CSA racquetsport standard. Spectacle correction may be incorporated into the goggles. Use of frames without any lenses does not usually provide adequate protection.

FIRST AID FOR EYE INJURIES

In cases of eye injury, correct treatment may prevent the loss of sight. Since examination of an injured child can be difficult it is best to call an ophthalmologist, family doctor or pediatrician or go to an emergency room after on the scene first aid is given. Be extremely gentle in any exam or first aid to avoid any further injury to the eye. Signs and symptoms of serious injury include pain, blurred vision, distortion of the pupil, and blood in the eye.

Particles in the eye-

Be careful not to rub an eye with a particle in it. The child may have a scratching sensation, pain on blinking, light sensitivity or tearing. Have the child blink a few times. If the particle is still present, gently keep the eye closed and seek medical help. Even if the particle is no longer visible, eye discomfort of any kind may indicate a scratch on the cornea which should receive treatment.

Cut of the eye-

Do not apply pressure to the injured eye or lid, or allow the child to rub the eye. Do not wash out the eye or attempt to remove the cutting object from the eye. With cuts, it is important to protect the eye from further injury. General: cover the eye and seek help immediately.

The Black Eye-

Proceed as outlined above if you suspect the eye is cut. It no cut is suspected, apply ice to reduce swelling. If the child is complaining of blurred vision or pain, seek medical help immediately.

Chemical Burns-

Immediately flush the eye with water. In an older child, the child's head may be placed under a faucet. Open the eyelids with your fingers while washing. In a young child, any clean container may be used to wash out the eye. Continue washing the eye gently for 15 minutes. Do not bandage the eye. Seek medical help after the irrigation is completed.