Protecting Eyes on Independence Day

Protecting Eyes on Independence Day

The Vision Council and Prevent Blindness America Outline Eye Safety Practices

Alexandria, VA (July 3, 2012) - As families and individuals prepare to celebrate Independence Day, The Vision Council and Prevent Blindness America urge Americans to safeguard eyes from holiday-related hazards. This Fourth of July, the U.S. Fire Administration projects that approximately 9,000 people will be treated at emergency rooms for firework related injuries. On average, 22 percent of these injuries will be to eyes, including serious issues like contusions and lacerations.

Independence Day is an extremely dangerous time for eyes and vision health, said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council. All too often, we hear about an unfortunate situation that cuts a July 4th celebration short. In order to have a fun and healthy Independence Day, The Vision Council and Prevent Blindness America ask Americans to consider several safety precautions before heading outdoors.

Both groups urge consumers to not use fireworks and only attend displays by licensed operators. For those planning to attend professional displays, protective eyewear should be worn at all times. Flying objects like sparks, bottle rockets and sky rockets can hit the eye and result in permanent vision loss or damage. Protective eyewear like goggles and safety glasses can shield eyes from these types of projectiles. Unlike regular glasses and contacts, which can shatter or break, protective lenses are designed to withstand high levels of impact. This is especially important for young children, who are more frequently treated for firework-related eye injuries.

In addition to fireworks, Fourth of July hazards also include ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can be extremely damaging to eyes. During summer months, when UV levels are at their highest, solar radiation commonly causes short and long term vision impairment in both children and adults. To mitigate the risks of UV, sunglasses and other UV-protective eyewear should be worn at all times.

In a recent report - Finding Your Shades, Protecting Your Vision - The Vision Council describes the health risks of UV exposure. Photokeratitis, or sunburn of the eyes, is a common and painful condition that can occur from just a few hours of unprotected UV exposure. More serious conditions like abnormal growths on the eye, cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancer of the eye and eyelid are the result of cumulative exposure to the sun.

Wearing sunglasses or other UV-protective eyewear is the best way to shield eyes from the sun. Consumers should consider the following tips when choosing a pair of shades:

  • Buy from a reputable retailer: Their products will meet frame and lens quality criteria set by the American National Standards Institute.
  • Look for UV protection: Sunglasses should filter UVA and UVB light.
  • Try the sunglasses on: Fit and feel make a difference because sunglasses that are uncomfortable are less likely to worn.
  • Use multiple pairs: Different lenses and frames may be suited to various types of activities.
  • Understand lens color: The darkness of a lens has nothing to do with UV protection, although various lens colors can offer other benefits. For instance, yellow- and brown-tinted lenses are best when for water sports; gray, brown and amber are great for field sports; and mirror coatings work well for water sports.
  • Focus on design: For extra protection, wraparound glasses or glasses with larger temple pieces help block the sun from side angles.

For more information about fireworks safety or UV protection for the eyes, please visit missingsunglasses.com or preventblindness.org.

About The Vision Council

Serving as the global voice for vision care products and services, The Vision Council represents the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry through education, advocacy and consumer outreach. By sharing the latest in eyewear trends, advances in technology and advice from eyewear experts, The Vision Council serves as a resource to the public looking to learn more about options in eyeglasses and sunglasses.

About Prevent Blindness America

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness America is the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness America touches the lives of millions of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, community and patient service programs and research. These services are made possible through the generous support of the American public. Together with a network of affiliates, Prevent Blindness America is committed to eliminating preventable blindness in America.