April is Sports Eye Safety Month
Spring and better weather have arrived and we will be spending a lot more time outside doing activities and sports. Adults and children have been cooped up indoors for several months and can't wait to enjoy the better outdoor days to come.

Don't be too hasty to run outside without keeping safety and eye protection a priority. Many injuries are just caused by carelessness. Even riding a bike can cause an eye injury. How many times have you ridden a bike on a windy day and felt something fly into your eye? Eye injuries and infections happen quickly. Sports such as racquetball, tennis, baseball, hockey and golf, as well as water sports, are all potential risks for eye injuries. Recreational specs or even glasses can protect the eye from flying balls or penetrating injuries that can cause a lifetime of trouble and damage to the eye.

If you feel something enter the eye, quickly rinse it out with preferably clean, bottled water. Sink water may be wet but can carry bacteria you can't see; it is better than nothing but if you have the opportunity, use more sterile water. Don't rub the eye. Rubbing a particle into the eye can embed it into the cornea and make matters worse. Cover the eye and get to an eye health specialist.

At times, a piece of metal or wood can enter the eye and if not removed properly can cause what is called a “rust” ring and has to be removed by an eye specialist. If not put on antibiotics quickly, further damage and problems for the eye health will occur.

Rubbing eyes with dirty hands also can cause a problem. After playing a sport, be sure you clean your hands thoroughly. It is second nature to rub your face after playing a sport; your hands are a hot bed of germs and contamination.

I have seen first-hand what a tennis ball or racquetball does to damage the eye and surrounding socket. Fractures are easy to experience in the face with a fast-moving ball. Eye and facial surgery is not pleasant. Save yourself the pain and use protection during sports at all times...even cutting the grass can be a danger.

Prevention is the answer to protection.

Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.