Selma’s Dr. Dae Song said sunglasses are essential to protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV light. Make sure to look for sunglasses that offer 99 to 100 percent UV protection. -- Alison McFerrin

Prevention is the best weapon

Published 9:19pm Monday, July 11, 2011

By Alison McFerrin

The Selma Times-Journal

They are composed of more than 2 million working parts. Only 1/6 of them is exposed to the outside world. They can process 36,000 bits of information every hour.

They’re your eyes, and July is all about keeping these 1-inch diameter body parts safe from outside harm.

July is Eye Injury Prevention Month, and several dangers are on the table when it comes to your eyes.

“The eye is very delicate,” Dr. Dae Song, Selma ophthalmologist, said. “If you damage it, it’s not so easy to fix it. So that’s why prevention is so much more important.”

Song said he sees a high incidence of eye injuries related to fireworks in July.

“You just have to stay away from the fireworks … so they don’t fly into your eyes. And that’s simple,” Song said.

Much of Eye Injury Prevention Month is focused on workplace injuries — the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that an estimated 1,000 eye injuries occur in American workplaces every day, according to Federal Occupational Health.

“If you’re working with chemicals, make sure you wear safety glasses, because if they splash into your eyes, the chemical can really burn your eyes and cause serious damage,” Song said. Although Song added that most workplaces have safety requirements, such as wearing glasses or goggles, the BLS reported three of every five workers who injure their eyes on the job were either not wearing eye protection or were wearing the wrong kind of eye protection, FOH’s website said.

But safety glasses aren’t just for the workplace.

“A lot of people, when they go cut grass, they don’t wear any safety glasses,” Song said. “Now, safety glasses, they don’t have to have any power in them. They’re just covering your eyes so that … a Weed Eater won’t throw a rock into your eyes.”

Song also recommended wearing safety glasses when working under the car or under the hood, as well as when playing sports like baseball or softball.

“Don’t wait till you get an injury and then try to fix it,” Song said. “It’s much easier to prevent an injury to begin with.”

Another danger for the eyes comes from the sun’s UV rays.

“If you’re a farmer, or you’re a forest ranger, or a life guard at the beach, definitely you should wear sunglasses because it protects your eyes from the UV light,” Song said.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you should choose sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays — shy away from glasses labeled cosmetic and those that don’t provide details about UV protection.

Eye injuries can vary in severity from requiring eye drops or minor surgery to causing blindness or requiring the removal of the eye.

Eye Injury Prevention Month is sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

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