If you’re a parent, you already know how vulnerable your child’s eyes are. Whether we like it or not, these extraordinary pieces of biological visual equipment are often under the sole care of the infants, toddlers, and children who own them, with plenty of supervision from caring adults. So how do we protect these valuable assets, or treat them in the event of an injury?
According to childrenshospital.org, household products are responsible for more than 32,000 serious eye injuries each year. Keep those cleaners, insecticides, spray fresheners, and other household chemicals out of children’s reach to avoid one of the most prevalent eye dangers around.
Wash your hands! Another common source of eye injuries comes from residue on the hands that gets rubbed in your eyes or those of your children. Pick up the wrong residue and forget to wash, and eyes could be damaged or even permanently blinded.
Wear sunglasses during long periods of outside activities. This one is bound to cause funny tan lines, but many parents don’t stop to consider the extra sensitivity that many children have to strong light. Even on cloudy days, light can reflect or even become more focused by clouds, which can lead to serious and irreversible eye damage over time. We always tell our kids not to stare at the sun – it’s also recommended to dim the outside lights where appropriate.
Seek professional attention. Since most of us aren’t eye doctors, any scratches or foreign objects in the eye should certainly be seen by a genuine eye specialist. Doctors can help prevent infection, remove foreign objects, and evaluate the seriousness of the eye injury. Even if an injury seems minor, this is always our most important recommendation. If you have a small cup, tape it over your child’s eye on the way to the doctor to help relieve pressure and prevent eye rubbing.
If an eye doctor isn’t handy and your patient must be treated right away, wash your hands! This principal is repeated because it cannot be stressed enough if you plan to go anywhere near someone’s eye. From foreign bacteria to chemical residue from any touched surfaces, unwashed hands may be festering with trouble.
No touching! If a foreign object is lodged in someone’s eye, the only sure way to prevent more damage is to flush the eye continuously under lukewarm – not heated – water. Flush the eye continuously for up to 15 minutes and have a third person hold the eyelid open if necessary. Have your patient lean their head sideways over a sink with the injured eye down and pour the water from a clean pitcher or bowl.
Give a demonstration. It is essential to keep eye injury victims as calm as possible during treatment, and in the case of young children, don’t be afraid to demonstrate that it’s not that bad by flushing some water through your own eye first. No child wants to be in this kind of scary predicament, but when parents are calm and relaxed, children will be able to calm down far more quickly, and will also become more receptive to treatment.
Use reliable information! If you’re going to seek your own information, do what we do and be sure to use a credible source rather than a quick search. We recommend GetEyeSmart.com, The National Institutes of Health, KidsHealth.org, and ChildrensHospital.org for starters.
What are you doing to for Eye Injury Prevention Month?
Author: Kevin Freeman