D.I.Y. home renovations may be a fun way to spend your weekend, but if you don't wear your safety goggles, you're at risk of intraocular foreign body injuries. These injuries—which are responsible for 3% of emergency room visits in America—occur when a foreign body penetrates into the globe of your eye. Here are four things that D.I.Y. enthusiasts need to know about intraocular foreign body injuries.
How do these injuries occur?
It's easy to suffer an intraocular foreign body injury while you're doing repairs or renovations around your house. Hammering and using power tools are the main causes. When you hammer a nail, small shards of metal can break off of the nail and fly into your eye. Power tools can also turn small pieces of wood into projectiles.
While hammers and power tools are the biggest risks, any of your home renovation projects can lead to tragedy. For example, debris can fly into your eye while you're ripping up tiles or when you're knocking down a wall.
What are the signs of intraocular foreign body injuries?
If you suffer one of these injuries, the signs will be apparent immediately. You'll feel something strike your eye, and then your eye will water and your vision will blur. If you experience this, halt your renovation immediately and get to the eye clinic. Some people ignore the pain in the hopes that it will go away, but if you wait to seek treatment, more damage can be done to your eyes.
How serious are these injuries?
Most of the time, according to Eye Rounds, the foreign body enters your eye through your cornea, the transparent tissue that protects your iris and pupil. This is a major concern because the injury can lead to scarring of this important tissue. Scars on the cornea prevent light from passing through, so as a result of your injury, your vision can become hazy and greatly impaired. Impaired vision will make it harder for you to continue with your renovation projects, and you may need to have a corneal transplant before you can get back to work.
Intraocular foreign body injuries can also lead to hemorrhaging inside your eye. This increases the pressure inside your eye, which can damage your optic nerve and other tissues. Your retina—a tissue essential for sight—can even detach from your eye, which can cause blindness.
How can you protect yourself?
Protecting your eyes is simple: wear safety glasses. Make sure to choose a pair that has passed a high velocity test. This test involves shooting a steel ball at the lenses at high speed; if the lenses don't crack or break, they pass the test. Safety glasses that have passed this test will have a plus sign ("+") on them, so they're easy to identify. Stay away from glasses that don't have this symbol on them.
These glasses are also available with prescription lenses if you need vision correction, and you can get them from your optometrist. While some people think that their regular glasses are enough to protect their eyes, this isn't the case. Regular glasses don't need to meet the same impact resistance standards that safety glasses do, so they may not stop a projectile from entering your eye. Regular glasses also don't wrap around your face like safety glasses do, so projectiles can enter your eyes from the sides.
If you like doing renovations around your home, make sure to wear the appropriate eye protection so that you don't get an intraocular foreign body injury. If you need help selecting an appropriate pair of safety glasses for your home renovation projects, ask your optometrist for guidance.