“Much of what we advise is common sense, but it bears repeating if it will save one individual from potential vision loss or damage to his or her eyes,” says Louis B. Cantor, M.D., chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. “It’s a good idea to secure loose railings, soften sharp edges and eliminate slippery stairs in the home. The presence of any one of these can lead to falls and injuries for senior citizens – and other members of the household.”
The American Academy of Ophthalmology has proclaimed October as Eye Injury Prevention Month. Nearly half of the country’s annual 2.5 million eye injuries take place in the home, and 11 percent of those are caused by slips and falls. AAO’s Eye Injury Prevention Month serves as a reminder to seniors and adults of all ages to make certain their homes are safe and that injuries, particularly those to the eyes, are prevented.
As our parents and grandparents age, we often make modifications to their homes hoping to keep them safe, such as adding ramps to stairways and fitting bathrooms with non-slip surfaces and railings in tubs and showers, Dr. Cantor notes. But loose railings, slippery surfaces and sharp edges can lead to falls and eye injuries to people of all ages.
Slips and falls are not the only cause of home eye injuries. Individuals can be injured while doing yard work, home repair or working with chemical cleaners, says Dr. Cantor. The AAO recommends that every household in American have at least one pair of American National Standards Institute-approved protective eyewear to be worn when doing projects in and around the home. Wearing protective eyewear can prevent up to 90 percent of all home eye injuries.
The AAO and the Department of Ophthalmology offer these tips to reduce the incidence of eye injuries in the home:
- Make sure that rugs and shower/bath-tub mats are slip-proof.
- Secure railings so that they are not loose.
- Cushion sharp corners and edges of furnishings and home fixtures.
- Use caution while operating power tools from nail guns to hedge trimmers and always wear ANSI-approved safety glasses.
- Be careful when opening or preparing solvents or chemicals for use in the home. It’s always best to wear protective eyewear.
- Don’t allow children or other adults to play in the yard while mowing. Lawnmowers can throw stones or other projectiles that can cause eye injuries.
- Make sure protective eyewear is used while playing sports, even if it’s just playing basketball in the driveway or tossing a football in the back yard.
More than one in five at-home eye injuries are caused by home repair or power tools. More than 40 percent of all home injuries take place in the yard or garden, while nearly 30 percent take place in the home’s living areas. Accidents were reported as the cause of 80 percent of all eye injuries, according to the AAO’s Eye Injury Snapshot conducted earlier this year.
If an eye injury is received, see an ophthalmologist or go to an emergency room immediately. Delaying medical attention can result in vision loss or blindness, said Dr. Cantor.