Module 5: Eye Safety

5.1 Common Eye Injuries: Symptoms & Prevention

5.1.1 Introduction

At least 90 out of 100 of eye injuries could be prevented. Eye injury is a leading cause of monocular blindness (blindness in one eye), and is second to cataract as the most common cause of visual impairment in the world. Most eye injuries occur in persons under thirty years of age (57%). Persons receiving an eye injury are on average aged 29 years.

Eye injuries most often include chemicals in the home, workshop and tool parts, battery acid, sports accidents, fireworks, over-exposure to ultra violet (UV) radiation, and the use of toys and games without supervision. 20% of eye injuries are work-related, with 95% occurring among males working in construction.

The National Society to Prevent Blindness reports that almost 40,000 eye injuries are related to sports and toys, but the number may be as high as 100,000. Many athletes have lost their careers because of eye injuries. While many athletes and sportspeople protect their heads with helmets and their bodies with pads, few protect their eyes.

5.1.2 Blunt Trauma

Blunt trauma accounts for most sports-related eye injuries. Mild blunt injuries include black eye (bleeding of the eyelids) and subconjunctival hemorrhage (bleeding of the conjunctival blood vessels), which, though they do not pose a threat to the eyes, may be accompanied by more severe eye injuries. Severe blunt trauma can cause hyphema, or bleeding in the front of the eye between the clear cornea and colored iris. It can also fracture not only the bones surrounding the eyes, but also damage the retina or optic nerve, causing blindness. A person whose eyes are injured due to blunt trauma should seek help from an ophthalmologist.(1)

 

5.1.3. Penetrating Injuries

 

Penetrating injuries range from mild abrasions to serious lacerations or cuts to the eyelids, conjunctiva and cornea. They result from foreign objects piercing the eye.(2) Symptoms include pain, redness and a feeling that something is in the eye.(3)

 

5.1.4 Orbital “Foreign Body” Injury

 

Orbital "foreign body" injury occurs from anything that gets into the cornea or orbit of the eye, including small pieces of wood, metal or plastic.(4) Symptoms depend on where the foreign body is embedded, but include tear-production, pain, blurred vision, light sensitivity or a feeling of something in eye.(5)

 

5.1.5 Corneal Injuries or Abrasions

 

 

Corneal injuries or abrasions occur when an object gets into the eye and scratches the cornea.(6) Symptoms of corneal abrasion include feeling that something is in the eye, tear-production, blurred vision, eye pain when exposed to bright light, and spasm of muscles around the eye area.(7)

 

 

 

5.1.6 Radiation Injuries

Radiation injuries occur after over-exposure to ultraviolet light during activities such as water sports, snow skiing, welding, and using sun-tanning booths. The most common radiation injury is ultraviolet keratitis, which is sunburn to the cornea (also called flash burn).(8) Symptoms of ultraviolet keratitis include pain, light sensitivity, redness and a feeling that something is in the eye. Solar retinopathy occurs after looking into the sun for an extended period. The primary symptom is decreased vision.(9)

5.1.7 Chemical Burns

Chemical burns to the eye can occur as a result of chemicals like alkali, acids, or household detergents getting into the eyes. Alkalis and acids can blind the eyes permanently.(10) The most common symptoms of chemical burns are pain, irritation, tearing and burning. The eye may also become red, or the eyelids swollen.(11) In the event of a chemical accident, wash your eyes with cold tap water for 10 minutes. Sterile saline solution should be used if it’s valuable.(12) 

5.2 Protecting the Eyes from UVB radiation

Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage parts of the eyes such as the cornea, conjunctiva and crystalline lens, causing irritation, dryness, inflammation of the cornea and iris (photokeratitis)(13) and precocious aging (photo-aging). Ultraviolet radiation can penetrate deep inside the eye, damaging the retina. Cataracts, pterygium and macular degeneration (see Eye Conditions) are examples of eye conditions caused by exposure to sunlight.

The use of protective sunglasses that can block ultraviolet radiation should be worn from a young age to minimize exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Footnotes

(1) "Sports Eye Injuries." UIC - Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences . 31 Aug 2005. University of Illinois at Chicago. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.uic.edu/com/eye/LearningAboutVision/EyeFacts/SportsEyeInjuries.shtml>.

(2) "Eye Injuries." eMedicineHealth: Practical Guide to Health. eMedicineHealth. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/eye_injuries/page2_em.htm>.

(3) "Eye Injuries." eMedicineHealth: Practical Guide to Health. eMedicineHealth. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/eye_injuries/page3_em.htm>.

(4)  "Eye Injuries." eMedicineHealth: Practical Guide to Health. eMedicineHealth. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/eye_injuries/page2_em.htm>.

(5) "Eye Injuries." eMedicineHealth: Practical Guide to Health. eMedicineHealth. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/eye_injuries/page3_em.htm>.

(6)  "Eye Injuries." eMedicineHealth: Practical Guide to Health. eMedicineHealth. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/eye_injuries/page2_em.htm>.

(7) http://www.emedicinehealth.com/corneal_abrasion/page3_em.htm

(8)  "Eye Injuries." eMedicineHealth: Practical Guide to Health. eMedicineHealth. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/eye_injuries/page2_em.htm>.

(9) "Eye Injuries." eMedicineHealth: Practical Guide to Health. eMedicineHealth. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/eye_injuries/page3_em.htm>.

(10)  "Eye Injuries." eMedicineHealth: Practical Guide to Health. eMedicineHealth. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/eye_injuries/page2_em.htm>.

(11) "Chemical Eye Burns, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment by eMedicineHealth.com." eMedicineHealth: Practical Guide to Health. eMedicineHealth. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/chemical_eye_burns/page3_em.htm>.

(12) "Chemical Eye Burns, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment by eMedicineHealth.com." eMedicineHealth: Practical Guide to Health. eMedicineHealth. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/chemical_eye_burns/page4_em.htm>.

(13) "WHO/Ultraviolet radiation: global solar UV index." World Health Organization. Aug 2002. World Health Organization. 9 Jul 2009 <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs271/en/>.