Eye Injury- It’s more common than you think

Courtesy of Geoffrey Fairchild on Flickr

Courtesy of Geoffrey Fairchild on Flickr

Injuries can happen to anyone at any time. You can scratch your cornea with your fingernail or have a fractured eye socket from being hit by a baseball. Some are more drastic, but they are all more common than you think.

The most common eye injuries include:

1.  Scratches to the cornea (Corneal Abrasion). This can result from something like a fingernail in the eye or even from a foreign object such as dirt or sand.  Abrasions can also happen if something falls into the eye during home improvement projects or working out in the garage. Symptoms of a corneal abrasion include tearing, pain, the sensation that something is in the eye and often extreme light sensitivity. If you suspect you have scratched your cornea, call your optometrist immediately.  Scratched corneas are more prone to infection and depending on where the scratch is located, can cause scarring and loss of vision if not treated urgently.

2. Chemical Burns from household items. Many household cleaners can burn the eyes if the product splashes in the eye. These burns can range from mild to severe depending on the product used. Alkali burns from cleaners can be less painful but more damaging than acid burns. Symptoms  of both burns include redness, pain and swelling. If something splashes in your eye, rinse it under copious amounts of water for 15 minutes and call your eye doctor or visit urgent care. You will want to let the doctor know what the substance was that got in the eye. This will help your eye doctor with the appropriate treatment.

3.  Penetrating eye injury. Metallic objects and things such as fishhooks can certainly cause severe damage to the eye structures.  This is a potentially very dangerous situation. A metallic object can lodge itself in the cornea and cause a great amount of scarring if not removed.  Do not attempt to remove the item yourself. Call your eye doctor and go to urgent care.

4.  Orbital Fractures. This can happen if a moving object hits the eye at a high speed. For example, a baseball, a bat, a fist, or similar trauma.  This type of injury can be very serious and involve the eye as well as the surrounding bones and tissues.  This is an emergency and should be treated urgently.

Eye injuries can happen anytime and anywhere.  We can use some common sense precautions to help limit damage to the eye and surrounding structures.  As much as possible, use safety glasses or goggles when working with chemicals or any items that may cause a scratch or penetration to the eye. Sports safety goggles are a good choice for both children and adults to help prevent injuries while participating in sports.

A little protection will go along way in preventing eye injuries.

Stay safe!

~Lisa Weiss, OD, MEd, FCOVD
California Optometric Association
http://eyehelp.org
http://www.coavision.org

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Bob Costas’ eyes – An eye doc’s perspective

Screen shot of Bob Costas on air

Screen shot of Bob Costas on air

I’ve been seeing quite a bit of pink eyes these last couple of days. The first one started with Bob Costas’ left eye on TV Friday night while watching the Olympics coverage. The next day, I received two calls on my on-call line from patients worried that they might have a contagious pink eye. I returned to work Monday and have seen more pink eyes in three days than I can remember.

I believe I have Bob Costas to thank for that. Sure, Sage Kotsenburg scored the first gold medal in snowboarding slopestyle, but that wasn’t what my Facebook friends were talking about these last two days. They wanted to know what’s going on with Bob Costas’ eye.

Sadly, I noticed that his infection has spread to the other eye, although the Twitter account @BobCostasEyes probably let slip the 4-1-1 first.

I wish I could definitively diagnose his eye condition. But being that all I have to go on are pixelated images of Bob Costas frozen in mid-speech without the use of microscopes and surface dyes to judge for irregularities, I can only surmise.

If it was a bacterial infection from a contact lens, antibiotics should have cleared it up by now, and it wouldn’t have spread to the other eye.  Now that it’s spread to the right eye, it’s most likely a viral infection.  It looks much worse than it feels. The eyes are usually watery, glassy and bright red. A microscope would show bumps on the inner eyelids as well as any cloudy areas on the surface. This can be treated with medications to limit the length of the infection, although it can last up to three weeks. Cool compresses and artificial tears can provide some relief of symptoms also.

But if you look at Costas’ outer eyelids, they’re also very red and irritated. It’s quite possible that he was given medications that he discovered he was allergic too. In either case, it was smart to finally take a sick day and go off the air to give him time to recuperate. Let’s hope for a speedy recovery before Matt Lauer’s beard has its own Twitter account.

So, to all of you with healthy, white and clear eyes, keep your hands clean and away from your face, don’t shake hands with someone with a pink eye, and see your optometrist if you think you have an irritated pink eye. To read more about pink eye, see our previous blog article on this topic.

~Cindy P. Wang, OD, FAAO

California Optometric Association
http://www.coavision.org

Are contact lenses dangerous?

Courtesy of wader on Flickr

Courtesy of wader on Flickr

The Benefits

Contact lenses are medical devices that millions of people wear safely every single day. Many people enjoy the freedom from glasses that contact lenses allow.

Contact lenses are also great options for:

  • Sports
  • Changing eye color
  • People who have irregularities to the front of the eye, cornea, or are not able to see with glasses.

Contact lenses make it possible to see and function in everyday life.

The Dangers

Contact lenses can be dangerous if they are abused.

Contact lenses are medical devices and can only be prescribed and dispensed by a licensed eye doctor. If they are sold without being evaluated on the eye by a doctor it can lead to:

  • Eye infections
  • Eye inflammation
  • Eye injuries

Proper care is key

Proper contact lens care and handling are important components of the contact lens fitting process. Contact lens solution used incorrectly or “topping off contact lens solution” (adding more without disposing of the current solution) can lead to multiple complications. It is important to use sterile contact lens solution and not tap water due to bacteria in water. Never, ever put contact lenses in your mouth or spit on them to try to clean them.

Courtesy of listentothemountains on Flickr

Courtesy of listentothemountains on Flickr

It is also important to replace contact lenses at the recommended frequency. For example, daily disposable contact lenses should be replaced each day. Contact lenses that are overused and abused can lead to serious problems.

Certain contact lenses are approved for sleeping or extended wear. However, if your contact lenses are not approved for extended wear, this can lead to complications on the cornea, or front of the eye.

If you are interested in contact lenses, schedule an appointment with a doctor of optometry today.

~Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO

Summer & your eyes: Swimming pools

Yay – Summer is officially here!

School is out and we finally get to spend some serious time in the pool. But before you jump in, here are a few quick safety tips for you and your eyes:

Photo courtesy of Andrew Eick on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Andrew Eick on Flickr

  • The pH of our eyes is 7.2, so can you guess what the recommended pH is for your pool? (hint: it’s 7.2!) Remember to check the pH levels in your pool at least once or twice a week and try to keep it in the range of 7.0-7.6.
  • Chemical conjunctivitis or red eyes can occur due to chlorine exposure in swimming pools. Having a little after a day in the pool is okay, but if it persists into the next day or if it seems to be getting worse, call your optometrist and ask to have your eyes checked that same day.
  • As a general rule, contact lenses should never be worn in the pool. Doing so puts you at risk for a variety of possible infections, including a fungal infection called Fusarium keratitis that is difficult to treat and can lead to permanent blindness. (The only exclusion to this rule is for my daily disposable contact lens patients under the strict condition that their contacts are thrown out as soon as they leave the pool.)
  • Prescription goggles are available and can be fairly inexpensive! If you rely on your glasses to see, talk to your optometrist about prescription goggles for use in the pool.
  • And if you plan to be hanging out around the pool this summer, remember that sunglasses are just as important for protecting your eyes as sunblock is for protecting your skin. Make sure yours have UVA and UVB protection.

Have safe and fun summer!

~Ranjeet S. Bajwa, OD