As the brunt of summer approaches, children will be active inside and outside the home, becoming susceptible to injuries — specifically, eye injuries. According to the American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO), more than half of the 2.5 million eye injuries that occur every year happen within or around the home with children accounting for one-third of the injuries. The occurrence of eye injuries reaches a peak in the month of July and then slowly begins to decline in the fall, said Gerald McGwin, Jr. Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Opthalmology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The most common eye trauma in children 11 to 14 years of age is a sports-related injury. And, despite the prevalence of sports-related eye injuries, the use of protective eyewear among adolescents remains dangerously low.

In a study published in the British Journal of Opthalmology, researchers conducted a prospective observational study over a period of a year on all of the children with eye trauma who were admitted to the hospital in Scotland. The main form of eye injury among children was found to be blunt trauma, which accounted for 65 percent of eye injuries, and sports activities were the most common cause of injury. The average hospital stay for a patient admitted for eye trauma was 4.2 days. Researchers concluded that the outcome of pediatric eye injuries has improved over the years.

The cornea is often impacted in most eye injuries, where dust, dirt, and sand can scratch or cut the area. In some severe cases, a scratched cornea can become infected and cause a corneal ulcer — an open sore on the area that covers the iris and the round pupil. Dr. Adam Clarin, optometrist in Miami, told Medical Daily about his personal sports-related eye injury after playing basketball for more than 25 years: "I had an elbow randomly hit me directly in the eye and had an orbital blow out fracture - basically fracturing the bone under my eye," he said. "One week later I had surgery to repair the fracture. Obviously I ordered sports-safety glasses since and will forever wear them for any sport." Clarin realized the only way he could have prevented the eye trauma was to wear safety glasses from the beginning — even in a game like basketball.

Whether you are an adult or a child, inside or outside the home, eye injury prevention is essential at all times. Your home could be the very reason why you or someone in your family may be admitted to the hospital for ocular trauma. In a survey by the AAO, less than half of the survey respondents mentioned the home as the most common place for serious eye injuries to occur. Only 35 percent of those surveyed said they always wear protective eyewear when doing home repair or projects. Due to this hazardous trend, the AAO and the American Society of Ocular Trauma recommend that every household in the U.S. have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear while doing housework that can put your eyes at risk.

Put a stop to the alarming trend of eye trauma in the home and outside by following these eye injury prevention safety tips to keep you and your children safe all summer long.

Eye Safety In Sports

Sports are the number one cause for eye injuries in children aged five to 14. Bridgeport Hospital Yale New Haven Health reports that more than 90 percent of sports-related eye trauma can be prevented with the use of protective eyewear. The majority of eye injuries occur in racquetball or softball where there is a fast-moving ball bouncing back and forth. Clarin suggests sports-safety glasses while playing any sport. "I think it's pretty well known that safety glasses should always be worn for racquetball," he said to Medical Daily.

Eye Safety At Home

Approximately half of all eye injuries in the U.S. occur at home. The use of ANSI-approved protective eyewear can help protect your eye sight inside the home when you clean. Even if the household task seems remedial, protective eyewear from the home can save your sight. As a rule of thumb, suggests to do the following:

  • Read the labels of chemicals and cleaners carefully, and don't mix products.
  • Secure rugs and railings.
  • Cushion sharp corners and edges of furnishings and home fixtures if you have children or the elderly in your house.
  • Check the lawn or the outdoor area where you will be working for debris that can become a projectile.
  • Keep your tools in good condition; damaged tools should be repaired or replaced.
  • Make sure that all spray nozzles are directed away from you.
  • Use grease shields on frying pans to protect from splattering.

Eye Safety In The Garden

While gardening, it is important to take extra precautions and wear sunglasses. The worst eye injuries come from corneal abrasions from working around the house. While parents see gardening as an opportune time to bond with their children, it can be hazardous if not done correctly. "In South Florida, there are a lot of gardening accidents where a price of plant or vegetative material scrapes the eye," said Clarin to Medical Daily. Sunglasses are ideal to protect your eyes while you garden and guards you from the harmful UV rays if you're working under the sun. Common maladies Clarin has seen from housework come from dusting or sanding where the microscopic material can blow into the eye and irritate the ocular surface. "Usually I will just wash out the eye and look under the microscope for any tiny pieces I may need to move," he said.

Eye Safety On The Beach

If you and your children are at the beach, sunglasses with a darker tint should be worn to block more sunlight. Eye trauma from the sun can cause greater harm to the cornea because the ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause immediate damage to the eyes and result in corneal sunburn. Avoid getting sunglasses that do not have UV protection because even if they do provide shade for your eyes, they can cause the pupils to dilate and allow more harmful UV rays in, says Mayo Clinic.