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Protecting Your Peepers in Texas

Aug 17, 2007
Your eyes. You've only got two. And if you lose even one, you lose your ability to see in "stereo." An estimated 1.1 to 2.4 million individuals in Dallas, Houston, throughout Texas and the rest of the country, fall prey to eye injuries each year. Approximately 42,000 of these injuries require hospitalization.

The workplace accounts for 1,000 eye injuries daily, but more injuries to the eye result from use or misuse of household, garden or home workshop products. According to the National Society to Prevent Blindness, nearly 60% of all product-related eye injuries occur in and around the home.

Any injury to the eye can potentially end up in visual loss or blindness if it is severe enough and left untreated or treated improperly. Fortunately, though, 90% of all eye injuries can be prevented, as this can be a matter of simply changing how you deal with situations at home, at work and at play.

Home Prevention
One of the best and most important ways to prevent household product-related eye injuries is by reading and following the manufacturer's instructions and safety warnings. Common sense also factors into protecting your eyes:
- When opening a champagne bottle, wrap the bottle neck and cork in a towel and grip it tightly. As you remove the cork, point it away from yourself and others. Do not shake the bottle.
- Pick up rocks and debris before mowing the lawn.
- Take extra precautions when children are in the house. Don't give glass bottles or drinking cups to babies or small children. Keep sharp objects away from children.
- Don't peak into a bag of popcorn just taken out of the microwave oven. The steam can scorch the surface of your eye.

Preventing many eye injuries is as simple as wearing safety glasses, which are made of hard plastic. Safety eyewear can be purchased at many home building stores and hardware stores, as well as optical centers in Dallas, Houston, Austin or elsewhere in Texas.

Wear eye protection when:
- Cleaning the oven or using other strong chemicals
- Chopping wood
- Working with motorized equipment
- Jump-starting a car -- an exploding battery can spray acid into your eyes

Work Prevention
Each year, nearly 100,000 Americans lose sight in one or both of their eyes because of accidents at work. Nationally, work-related eye injuries cost over $133 million a year in lost production, medical expenses and workers' compensation, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has had a major impact on safety in all industries. OSHA requirements include proper eye protection -- approved industrial safety glasses made of plastic or shatterproof glass. Unfortunately, there is still a high incidence of employee eye trauma. Corporations can prevent many eye injuries by starting or improving training programs in safety and first aid.

Recreational Prevention
Sometimes, when you play, you pay with your eyes. Sports and recreational activities cause more than 31,000 eye injuries each year. Nearly one third of these eye injuries occur in children, ages 5 to 14 years, often in accidents involving play. Many injuries to children occur during rough play, such as wrestling or throwing things at each other.

Toys that can hurt the eyes include:
- Missile-type toys
- Toys with hard edges or detachable parts
- Slingshots, BB guns and other toy guns
- Fireworks

In addition, people involved in outdoor recreational activities should know that the sun's ultraviolet rays could burn the cornea. Sunlamps and tanning booths also put off intense ultraviolet rays, which can burn unprotected eyes.

Wearing proper headgear and protective eyewear can prevent most sports-related injuries. Standard eyeglasses and contact lenses do not offer adequate protection. Special eye guards are needed for racket sports and basketball. Football, hockey and baseball players require even stronger headgear to protect the head and face.

If you lose your eyesight, you'll lose big. So it's important to take the proper precautions now to ensure that you have good eyesight for the rest of your life. Because how you treat your body when you're young will certainly affect your health when you get older. Eventually, it will also affect your wallet as well.
About the Author
Pat Carpenter writes for Precedent Insurance Company. Precedent puts a new spin on health insurance. Learn more at Precedent.com
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