Zion Eye Institute doctor discusses the importance of eye safety

FEATURE — Eye safety is always a good thing to talk about. Last year there were over 300,000 work-related eye injuries nationwide – to repeat, eye injuries that were just work-related.

Every day Zion Eye Institute sees patients with some sort of eye injury. Some are referred from the emergency room, WorkMed or Instacare; others come in on their own.

Stock image, St. George News

Auto mechanics and steel workers top the list with metal fragments that need to be removed from their eyes. Some have more than one at a time, and their corneas can look like the surface of the moon from previous “foreign body” encounters.

“My personal record is 68,” optometrist Jason Hauck, of Zion Eye Institute, said. “That’s 68 pieces of ‘slag’ I removed from one welder’s eye.”

Having something in your eye is painful, and the removal process is delicate. Most of the time the foreign bodies are superficial, but if the fragment is big enough and moving fast enough it can penetrate the eye and cause serious damage. Most of these injuries are avoidable by wearing the proper eye protection.

While many of these injuries occur at work, Zion Eye Institute doctors see nearly as many eye injuries resulting from accidents at home.

“I’ve seen plenty of seniors with injuries from working on a hobby or doing yard work,” Hauck said. “Branches are notorious for sneaking up on on you while pruning. While safety glasses can be bothersome, they can save your eyesight.”

It’s not always flying metal or poking branches that cause problems. Women deal with rogue mascara brushes and curling irons. A grandchild’s finger can cause a pretty good scratch too.

Photo by Evan Pritchard via Wikimedia Commons, St. George News

Then there are sports.

While baseballs have been known to cause a few shiners, most seniors engage more in softball, pickleball or tennis. The most dangerous of the racket sports is racquetball. That small blue ball moves fast. At speed, it becomes elongated and fits nicely into the space between our brow and cheekbone. A direct hit can destroy an eye. Always wear protective glasses when playing racquetball. Larger, slower moving balls tend to be less common causes of eye injury, but they still occur.

“I’ve seen some pretty good black eyes from volleyballs,” Hauck said.

So what are we to do? Wear a helmet and safety glasses at all times? Tempting, but no. Hauck urges people to use common sense. Always wear eye protection while doing shop work, cutting wood, hammering nails or grinding metal. Always. When doing yard work, remember the adage: Better safe than sorry. If you do sustain an eye injury, know that Zion Eye Institute is available in Southern Utah and Mesquite, Nevada, to help.

Written by DR. JASON HAUCK.

Dr. Jason Hauck | Photo courtesy of Zion Eye Institute, St. George News

About the author

Hauck attended Dixie State College and Southern Utah University before receiving his Bachelors of Science at Pacific University. He went on to obtain his Doctor of Optometry degree from Pacific University College of Optometry where he graduated with clinical honors. Hauck has worked as an optometrist with Zion Eye Institute and has over 26 years of clinical experience.

For more information call 435-656-2020 or visit Zion Eye Institute’s website.

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