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EyeSmart Campaign Articles

The following articles are reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeSmart campaign.

» No Fireworks Are Safe, Even the Innocent Sparkler Causes Thousands of Eye Injuries (June 2017)

Fireworks injuries cause approximately 10,000 visits to the emergency department each year, most of them involve children who suffer thousands of eye injuries.1 Though the most disabling injuries occur with illegal firecrackers, most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.

Every year, ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat thousands of patients who suffer a range of fireworks-related injuries, from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas and ruptured eyeballs. To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, WAO joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in working to debunk common myths about fireworks injuries.

Here are five fireworks myths, debunked:

1.    Sparklers are safe for young children. Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers were responsible for most of the injuries to children age 5 and younger.1

2.    It’s safer to view fireworks than it is to light or throw them. Bystanders are injured by fireworks as often as the operators.2 Stacy Young was 100 yards away when an illegal firework sent shrapnel into her skull. Ophthalmologists couldn’t save her eye. It had to be removed.

3.    Consumer fireworks are safe. Sparklers and firecrackers each account for 1,400 injuries to the eyes1

4.    It’s safe to pick up a firework after it has been lit. Even though it looks like a dud, it may not act like one. When Javonte McNair, 14, picked up a previously lit firework, it exploded, severing his hand and blasting hot debris into his eye, causing severe damage to his cornea.

5.    It’s not the Fourth of July without consumer fireworksThe Fourth can be complete without using consumer fireworks. The Academy advises that the safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show.  

If you experience a fireworks injury, ophthalmologists urge you to minimize the damage to the eye:

  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Do not rub the eye. Rubbing may make the injury worse.
  • Do not attempt to rinse the eye.
  • Do not apply pressure to the eye.
  • Do not remove objects from the eye,
  • Do not apply ointments or take pain medications before seeking medical help.

To help ensure people get the facts about fireworks, the Academy also created an animated public service announcement titled “Fireworks: The Blinding Truth”. It encourages the public and media to view and share the PSA. Visit the Academy’s EyeSmart® website for more information about fireworks eye safety.

»Taking Flomax May Cause Cataract Complications

A new study confirms the link between patients taking Flomax and complications when undergoing cataract surgery.  Men taking Flomax to treat an enlarged prostate face more than double the risk for serious complications should they ened cataract surgery.  In this new study, 7.5 percent of the men who had taken Flomax in the two weeks before cataract surgery had a serious complication, compared with 2.7 percent of those who had not taken the drug.  That makes it a 2.3 times greater risk.  This study strengthens an existing study from 2005 about risks associated with taking Flomax before cataract surgery.  The 2005 study found that men taking Flomax or other alpha-blockers before cataract surgery had complications during and immediately after the procedure.

Flomax is often prescribed to treat an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, which affects almost three of four men 70 and older.  Women are also prescribed Flomax, for urinary problems.  Anyone who is taking or has ever taken Flomax or a similar alpha-blocker should tell his or her ophthalmologist prior to cataract surgery.  If you have cataracts and know you will need cataract surgery, you should consult with your prescribing physician before starting to take any alpha-blocker.  Do not discontinue taking an alpha-blocker without talking to your doctor

»Patients Won't Lose Sleep Over Blue-light-blocking Lens Implants

A new Australian study looked at whether blue-light-blocking intraocular lenses (IOLs) would disrupt sleep patterns in patients who had this type of lens implanted after cataract removal.  Blue-light-blocking IOLs are often prescribed as part of risk-reduction for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) for susceptible patients.  However, blocking blue-spectrum light had the potential to affect the production of melatonin, which is important for sleep regulation.  The researchers followed 49 patients, 18 with blue-light-blocking IOLs, comparing them to the 31 patients who received conventional IOLs, at six months after surgery.  The final results showed no affect on people's sleep patterns or sleep quality in the patients with blue-light-blocking lenses.

»Eating Healthy Prevents Age-related Macular Degeneration

A new study confirms the importance of eating healthy to help protect our eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Researchers found that people whose diets had higher levels of certain nutrients - vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA - and had high levels of low-glycemic index (low GI) foods, were less likely to develop early and advanced AMD.  Although the researchers say clinical studies are needed before physicians can begin recommending specific nutrient doses or dietary patterns to AMD patients, there's no need for people to delay adding health food to their shopping carts.  Sources of AMD-protective nutrient include citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and cold water fish.  The GI value is based on how fast a food carbohydrates raise the body's blood sugar levels; low GI foods have less impact on blood sugar fluctuations.

AMD affects the retina, light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.  Advanced AMD can destry the central, detailed vision that we need to read, drive, and enjoy daily life.  Although the "wet" form of advanced AMD is often treatable, there's no effective treatment for the much more common "dry" form.  Eating well is a practical way to reduce AMD risk while enjoying better health. 
To learn more about AMD, click here.

»Summer Safety for Children

Spring is upon us and summer is right around the corner, which means children spend more time outdoors - trips to the beach, outside sporting leagues and playing in the yard.  Research shows that children's eyes can be damaged from sun exposure, just like their skin.  This damage may put them at increased risk of developing debilitating eye diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration as adults.  It is important to make sure your children are wearing 100 percent UV blocking sunglasses.  Whenever you are outside with children, remember to put a hat and/or sunglasses on them just as you would yourself.  Children should be taught at a young age to wear sunglasses and hats to protect their eyes from the sun, so they will grow up with healthy sun protection habits.  Keep children out of the sun between peak times - 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. - when the sun's UV rays are the strongest.

Here are some summertime safety suggestions for children.

Make sure your kids wear sunglasses.
Sunglasses for children may be purchased inexpensively.  Check for 100 percent UV protection when buying sunglasses:  Make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays and UV-B ray.  Don't focus on the color or darkness of sunglass lenses:  Select sunglasses that block UV rays.  The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the price tag.  Look for glasses with a polycarbonate lens; children under six may need a pair with straps to keep them in place.

Wear protective eyewear when playing sports.
Tens of thousands of sports and recreation-related injuries occur each year.  The good news is that 90 percent of serious eye injuries are preventable through use of protective eyewear.  While helmets are required for many organized sports like baseball, protective eyewear unfortunately is not.  For all age groups, sports-related eye injuries occur most frequently in baseball, basketball and racquet sports.  Sports eye protection should meet the specific requirements of that sport; these requirements are usually established and certified by the sport's governing body and/or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

If sand gets in your child's eyes, no rubbing.
If a child gets sand blown or thrown into his eyes, an adult should immediately take him to a sink with running water.  You should restrain the child from rubbing his eyes, as this can irritate the thin corneal tissue and make symptoms worse.  Encourage the child to blink; also crying will help as the tears remove eye irritants.  If the child's eye still bothers him, it is important to seek medical attention from an Eye M.D.

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