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Preventing Eye Injuries in Children

Eye injuries affect about 2.4 million people every year. Household products cause more than 125,000 serious eye injuries. Hospital emergency rooms treat nearly 23,000 victims of eye injuries from sports. Toys and home playground equipment cause more than 11,000 injuries to young eyes. Below are tips for preventing injury to your child’s eyes. 

Eye safety at home

Here are tips to help protect your child from eye injury at home:

  • Make sure the edges of furnishings and home fixtures have no sharp edges.

  • Install lights and handrails to improve safety on stairs.

  • Be careful when you open bottles of wine or carbonated drinks near your child.

  • Don’t use hazardous solvents and detergents around your child. Don’t mix cleaning agents.

  • Don’t use spray nozzles near your child’s face.

  • Wash your hands after using household chemicals.

  • Use guards on all power equipment.

  • Keep children away when using a lawnmower or weed trimmer because debris may fly through the air.

  • Keep all dangerous cleaning supplies and sprays out of the reach of children.

  • Keep paints, pesticides, and fertilizers properly stored in a secure area.

  • Make certain all child caretakers know to be careful with common items such as paper clips, pencils, scissors, bungee cords, wire coat hangers, and rubber bands. If used carelessly, each of these items can cause serious eye injuries.

  • Let your child play with only age-appropriate toys.

  • When toy shopping, look for the ASTM mark. This means the product meets national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Eye safety outdoors and at play 

You can help keep your child’s eyes safe by following these tips:

  • Make sure your child wears sunglasses that protect from ultraviolet (UV) light.

  • Teach your child never to look directly at the sun, including during an eclipse.

  • Read and follow directions before playing games or using equipment.

  • Make sure your child wears safety goggles or glasses during sports and leisure activities.

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet with a polycarbonate facemask or wire shield during high-impact sports.

  • Select toys that are right for your child's age and activity level.

  • Supervise your child during activities that use sharp objects, such as crafting.

  • Don’t let a young child play with toys that shoot pellets, arrows, paint balls, or other projectiles. Have older children wear safety goggles.

  • Check playgrounds and play areas for potential eye hazards.

  • Keep children away from fireworks.

  • Set an example of using protective eyewear during sporting and leisure activities.

  • Make sure your child’s school requires protective eyewear during science experiments and sports. 

  • When traveling, secure your children in appropriate baby carriers, safety seats, and shoulder belts. Secure all loose items in the trunk or on the floor. Loose items can become a projectile in a crash.

If your teen uses skin care products or makeup  

Talk with your child about choosing, applying, and wearing skin care products and makeup safely to prevent eye injury. Safety tips include:

  • Choose unscented, allergy-safe products.

  • Don’t use shimmer, pearl, or glitter eye shadow or liner. These can scratch the eyes.

  • Don’t apply eyeliner to the inner edge of the top or bottom eyelids.

  • Don’t use loose powder on the face.

  • Don’t apply cream too close to the eyes.

  • Don’t apply eye makeup while driving, walking, or talking.

To prevent infections:

  • Don’t lend or borrow eye makeup.

  • Wash eye makeup brushes often.

  • Don’t use an old mascara wand with a mascara refill.

  • Don’t use water or saliva to wet applicators or thin mascara or eyeliner.

  • Don’t apply eye makeup if your eyes are red, swollen, or infected.

If your child uses a computer

A child who uses a smartphone, tablet, or computer is at risk for eye strain. You can help your child prevent eyestrain if you:

  • Position the computer screen slightly farther away from where your child would normally hold a book.

  • Position the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level.

  • Reduce nearby lighting to lessen reflections and glare.

  • Keep the computer screen clean and dust-free.

  • Make sure your child takes breaks to rest their eyes. 

If your child wears contact lenses 

You can help prevent eye infection and injury from contact lens use. Teach your child how to care for their contact lenses. This includes:

  • Washing hands before touching contact lenses

  • Removing lenses and cleaning them as often as required

  • Removing lenses before going to bed at night

  • Not exposing eyes to water while wearing contact lenses

  • Applying makeup after inserting contact lenses, not before 

When to see a healthcare provider 

Take your child to an eye care provider if your child has any signs of eye problems. This may include:

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Excess tears

  • Discharge from one or both eyes

  • Tired, aching, or heavy eyelids

  • Eye pain

  • Problems with focusing

  • Muscle spasms of the eye or eyelid

  • Headache

  • Changes in vision

  • Eye injury

  • Cut in skin around an eye

Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Haupert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Whitney Seltman MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2023
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