Watch Out for Children's
Eyes Over Holidays: Safety Tips from Emory Eye Center
ATLANTA -- "Watch it! You'll put your eye out!" That decades-old saying
has a lot of credibility according to many ophthalmologists, particularly
around the holidays. Toys or athletic equipment with flying parts or
sharp objects may make your children happy, but they also can be an
accident waiting to happen.
More than 90 percent of all
eye injuries in children can be prevented. Here's how.
* Provide close supervision.
If your kids received a potentially dangerous toy this Christmas or
Hanukkah -- such as a laboratory or tool set, remote-controlled airplane,
darts, bow-and-arrows or stomp rockets -- teach them how to use the
items properly, recommends Emory Eye Center pediatric ophthalmologist
Scott Lambert. Provide them with safety goggles. Let your children play
with toys best suited to their age and maturity level.
Children put their eyes at
greatest risk for blindness when they shoot BB guns, Dr. Lambert says.
"Often a child will lose the eye completely."
* Do not allow children to
light fireworks or be near others doing so. Remember that even seemingly
harmless items like rubber bands, paper clips and fish hooks can cause
serious eye injury.
* Wear safety glasses. According
to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 100,000 children
are injured during sports or recreational activities each year. Children
who play ball sports are especially vulnerable and should protect their
eyes by wearing safety glasses, says Dr. Lambert. Safety glasses and
goggles are available in most athletic stores and optical shops.
Of particular concern is
the current paintball craze. Multiple eye injuries have resulted from
this new game. Safety eyewear would have prevented those injuries.
It is estimated that up to
30 percent of eye injuries in children under 16 years old are sports-related
and usually occur in persons not wearing protective eyewear.
"Baseball is the most frequent
cause of eye injuries in children under age 15. Among the 15- to 24-year-old
age group, basketball and football are responsible for most sports-related
eye injuries. Racquet sports are the culprits in adults over age 24,"
Dr. Lambert reports.
Dr. Lambert recommends that
children wear polycarbonate safety glasses, goggles or shields. Polycarbonate
is a lightweight, shatterproof plastic that can be up to 100 times stronger
than other plastic on impact for objects of certain sizes.
* If injury occurs, seek
immediate medical attention. Injuries that need medical attention include
blows to the eye, corneal cuts or abrasions, cuts that show signs of
infection (persistent redness, puffiness or pus), or particles that
can't be dislodged easily. Eye injuries should be immediately treated
by an ophthalmologist or primary care physician to reduce the risk of
permanent damage. The extent of damage to the eye may not be immediately
January is National Eye Care
Month and a good time to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist
or optometrist. The Emory Eye Center's comprehensive ophthalmology section
offers primary eye care, routine eye exams and medical and surgical
first-line treatments for disorders such as cataracts, glaucoma and
retinal problems. Its many subspecialists provide eye care for more
complex disorders, including diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration,
inherited eye disorders in children and ocular tumors. For more information,