Being the proud father of a 6 (going on 16) year-old little girl and a 4 (going on lucky to get to 5 if I ever catch him) year-old boy, I have one thing on my mind…keeping them in line and raising respectable individuals. Fortunately, I have a spectacular wife that has 200 things on her mind. At least half of them concern the safety of our children. Since I am “the eye guy” of the household, I am tasked with the general welfare of their eye health as well as their general health. In this regard, the following are some of the concerns that go through my mind when I think about eye safety during the summertime.
My 6-year-old loves to sing, dance, and dabble in playing the piano. As you can imagine, there is not much danger in these activities for eye injuries. On the other hand, my 4-year-old is involved in baseball and soccer. These sports are much more likely to cause eye injuries. A participants risk for eye injury goes up dramatically when a puck, ball, bat, or club is involved and goes up even more when involved in contact sports like boxing or mixed martial arts. Fortunately, when you stand on the soccer field with your shirt above your head (my 4 four-year-old) the risk then decreases again. Important to note, both the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology agree that 90% of these injuries are preventable with adequate protection. The most common sports to have an eye injury are basketball, baseball, softball, airsoft, pellet guns, racquetball, and hockey. Bottom line…wear safety gear designed for individualized sports to decrease your risk of eye injuries.
Summertime is pool and beach time in Florida. Start by making sure you cover-up with adequate sunblock as skin cancers and lesions develop around the eyes that can be prevented with this simple step. Make sure to cover all your exposed skin, lesions elsewhere on the body can metastasize to the eye.
Wear goggles as pool chemicals can irritate the ocular surface. This does not typically lead to permanent damage but can be very uncomfortable. Recently, there was a report of acanthamoeba keratitis in the mainstream news. This single-cell organism known as an amoeba infected the cornea of the eye leading to lots of pain and vision loss and will likely result in a corneal transplant. The best way to avoid this rare infection is to use proper contact lens cleaning etiquette and stay out of pools or hot tubs while wearing your contact lenses.
Careful, don’t run around the pool, you may slip and cause an orbital fracture. Watch out for those toys at the beach and the pool. Trauma to the eye from these toys can cause serious inflammation and retinal injuries that could land you in the operating room!
Every once in a while, not planning adequately can be a blessing. At least, this is what parents have been telling their “surprise” children for years…thanks, mom and dad! When caring for your eyes, generally luck favors the prepared. Nothing ruins great summer plans like a visually devastating injury. So, be adequately prepared then make great memories.
Dustin Dixon, O.D.