Each year, thousands of children ages 5 and younger suffer eye injuries due to accidents at home, in the car or while playing, according to the National Society to Prevent Blindness.
The most common causes of eye injuries to children include:
- Misuse of toys
- Injuries from household objects such as garden tools, knives, forks, ink pens, pencils or scissors
- Contact with harmful household products that may cause an eye burn
- Automobile accidents
These injuries can damage a child’s sight and even cause blindness, according to Paul J. Rychwalski, M.D., chief of ophthalmology at Norton Children’s Hospital and associate professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.
While eye injuries are common for children, in many cases they are preventable. Dr. Rychwalski suggests the following tips for parents and caregivers:
- Be a good role model – always wear proper eye protection.
- Get protective eyewear for children and help them learn to use it correctly.
- Teach children to never point toys with flying parts at another person.
- Teach children how to safely carry sharp or pointed objects.
- Use caution near fires and explosives, such as campfires and fireworks.
Signs and symptoms of eye injury
Seek medical attention if your child:
- Has obvious pain or trouble seeing
- Cuts or tears his or her eyelid
- Has unusual pupil size or shape
- Has blood in the clear part of the eye
- Experiences impaired eye movement
- Has an eye that sticks out noticeably more than the other eye
- Has something in his or her eye or under the eyelid that cannot be removed easily