October is Eye Injury Prevention Month, but protective measures for eye injuries can be practiced anytime. While most children’s eye injuries are minor, others, like those that often occur in sports and recreational activities, can be serious and require medical attention.
How to protect children’s eyes from injury
To protect your child from a mild or severe eye injury, practice the following safety tips in your home:
• Keep all chemicals and sprays out of reach of small children.
• Only purchase age-appropriate toys.
• Avoid projectile toys such as darts.
• Along with sports equipment, provide your children with the appropriate protective eyewear.
• Ensure there are no sharp corners on the edges of furnishings and home fixtures.
• Provide appropriate lights and handrails to improve safety on stairs in the home.
• Beware of items in playgrounds that pose potential eye hazards.
• Remind your children not to play or run with sharp objects such as scissors, a fork or pencil.
What to do should if your child suffers an eye injury
If you think your child has small debris in the eye or a minor irritation, be sure to:
• Wash your hands thoroughly before touching the eye area.
• Tilt the child’s head over a basin or sink with the affected eye pointed down.
• Gently pull down the lower lid.
• Gently pour a steady stream of lukewarm water over the eye.
• Flush the eye for up to 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes to see if the foreign body has been flushed out.
Even if the injury seems minor at first, a serious injury is not always immediately obvious. Seek medical care if your child has:
• Been struck or poked in the eye with a ball or other object.
• A swollen, red, or painful area around the eye or eyelid.
• An eye that’s very sensitive to light.
Seek emergency medical care if your child has:
• Trouble seeing.
• Been exposed to chemicals.
• Something embedded in the eye.
• Severe eye pain.
• Blood in the eye.
• Nausea or vomiting after an eye injury.
While seeking medical help, remind your child not to rub his or her eyes. A cut or puncture wound should be gently covered. Do not apply ointment or medication to the eye.
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More children are affected by injuries than all other childhood illnesses and diseases combined. Most of these injuries are predictable and preventable. Here’s how to keep your child safe.