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With the long weekend fast approaching, we’re sure you have some groovy renovation plans. After all, there’s nothing quite like sipping a cup of tea, and catching up on the latest Renovate. Yep – you’ve got it all planned out…a little “do-it-yourself” day to make the most of some extra time off. 

But living out our home reno dreams come with risks. Whether it be a speck of fly-away dust in the eye, a wayward drop of paint causing a stumble, or that pesky ladder losing its balance…

It’s also not always the obvious cuts and bruises that we have to worry about. Major eye injuries can happen at any given time. That speck of dust – huge inconvenience! Luckily, most eye injuries are preventable if we follow eye safety instructions and use eye protection.

Fairly sure you’re safe, because you’ll just be pottering around at home?

You might think to yourself “but I’m not planning any risky activities” – but we say, think again! Even cleaning can put your eyes at risk – chemicals like bleach in household cleaning products cause up to 125 000 eye injuries in a year.

Gardening might sound like a safer bet, but we often assist gardeners (or those aspiring to have green fingers) with eye injuries. Trimming hedges, snapping branches and twigs or walking into thorns can cause serious injury while lawnmowers, and even shovels can throw dirt and debris in the air.

And then there is home improvement. Yep – the DIY we started with. Most home improvement projects, from painting the kitchen to building a deck, involve materials or tools that can be harmful to the eyes. Screws, nails and hand tools can launch into the air and into your eyes, and power tools can send wood chips or other substances flying in the air.

The best thing to do?

Take precautions with these projects.

  1. We usually associate safety goggles with construction workers, but if you think about it, building a birdhouse to hang in your garden is a construction project too, and while it may feel small scale, it shares some of the risks with larger scale projects. Safe to say our first recommendation – wear safety goggles.
  2. Don’t ‘do it by yourself’ – always have someone else available to help nearby.
  3. Keep a first aid kit and phone handy. You never know. 
  4. Keep it clean. Remember to wash your hands after you have completed any work, before you touch your face or eyes to eliminate the possibility of any debris or chemicals contacting your eyes.
  5. Keep an eye on children. Keep children at a safe distance from flying debris. This includes mowing the lawn and making use of power tools. Make sure fertilisers, pesticides and pool chemicals are stored out of reach of children at all times.

What are the signs and symptoms of an eye injury?

Eye injuries tend to fall into two major categories: foreign body in the eye, and foreign penetration of the eye. But it’s not always easy to identify an eye injury — especially in children. Seek medical care immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Obvious pain, trouble opening the eye or trouble seeing
  • A cut or torn eyelid
  • One eye not moving as well as the other eye
  • One eye sticking out further or seeming more prominent than the other
  • An unusual pupil size or shape
  • Blood in the white part of the eye
  • An object on the eye or under the eyelid that can’t easily be removed

What can you do if an eye injury occurs?

When an eye injury occurs, seek medical help from an optometrist, ophthalmologist or another doctor as soon as possible — even if the injury seems minor. Delaying care could lead to permanent vision loss or blindness.

In addition, take simple steps to prevent further damage. For example:

  • Don’t touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye
  • Don’t try to remove an object that appears stuck on the surface of the eye or an object that appears to have penetrated the eye
  • Don’t apply ointment or medication to the eye
  • Flush out any chemicals the eye has been exposed to with plenty of clean water
  • Gently place a shield or gauze patch over the eye until you can get medical attention

There you have it Groovers: an accident can happen in the blink of an eye. By all means, tackle that home project, redo the garden and live out your Kiwi Dream (pun intended). But remember that being prepared — both through prevention and quick action in case of an emergency — can help keep you and your loved ones seeing clearly.