Eyeglasses Related Injuries: Are Your Glasses Safe?
More than half of the population wears some form of prescription eyeglasses. Most of these individuals are not aware that wearing eyeglasses poses some risk. In fact, many eyeglass wearers choose eyeglasses over contact lenses because they prefer a safer alternative. Ironically, eyeglasses pose a safety risk for some wearers.
While there is not much research into eyeglass safety, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System provided data collected on emergency room cases where patients experiencing eyeglasses related injuries visited an urgent care center. The one-year study suggested that roughly 27,000 people suffered injuries from wearing their eyeglasses during the one year the survey took place.
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Many patients injured (4 percent or more) visited a local emergency room center. There was no distinction in frequency of injuries between male and female patients. Studies suggest many eyeglasses related injuries among elderly patients aged 65 and over resulted from falls.
The second highest category of eye related injuries were sports injuries, with the average age of the patient experiencing a sport injury between 1 and 17 years old. The highest group of injuries included people aged 18-64 years old. Slightly less than 4 percent of injuries resulted in trips to the emergency room.
Putting It All Together
Does this mean it isn't safe to wear eyeglasses? The study conducted by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System suggests there are age specific injuries and activity specific injuries. The study also suggests use of proper safety glasses may prevent many injuries, especially those incurred though physical activity.
Individuals taking part in sports for example, should consider wearing safer sports glasses, designed to protect the eyes during vigorous exercise. There are many types of eyeglasses designed to provide sports protection including wraparound glasses and thicker glasses with plastic lenses and flexible frames.
The elderly may also need more protective eyewear since they are more prone to falls that may crack or damage their eyewear.
Another important ingredient to the equation is education. Most people visit the eye doctor, get a check-up eye exam, are fitted for glasses and sent on their way. Due to the frequency with which accidents occur, it seems logical that opticians and ophthalmologists would start educating patients about eyewear safety. They may suggest active patients invest in two pairs of glasses, one for ordinary day-to-day wear and one for sports related activities.
Elderly citizens also need education and support to help prevent falls. This may prove more challenging, as the extent to which help is available may influence one's susceptibility to falls. Proper lenses including plastic lenses and durable frames should be offered to reduce the risk of injury associated with broken glasses.
Even though this study suggests there are some risks associated with wearing eyeglasses, overall wearing eyeglasses is much safer than not wearing glasses or even using contacts. Contacts while generally safe also pose some risks (such as corneal abrasion) for some wearers. There is no one perfect lens for everyone. Talk with your eye care professional to decide what type of corrective lens is best for you based on your lifestyle, and you will set yourself up for success in the long-term.
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