Parents know that eye injuries can happen, well, in the blink of an eye. As an eye doctor, I’ve seen firsthand how an innocent toy or a simple walk to storytime can result in an unexpected eye injury.
One misconception many parents have – especially new parents – is that they should go to the ER for every injury. The problem right now is that ERs may be flooded with Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients and doctors and healthcare professionals are already spread pretty thin. Parents might also be hesitant to take their kids to the ER if it means potential exposure to the virus.
“If you are unable to contact your eye doctor, there are other ways you can reach for help. For example, you can call VSP’s customer care at 800-877-7195 to locate an eye doctor who can assist.”
Avoid The ER. Call Your Eye-Doctor First!
Some common eye emergency situations are easily identifiable, such as getting hit in the eye, a chemical burn, or the sudden onset of blurry or lost vision. But what about situations that are less obvious?
Did you know lost or broken eyewear or a low supply of contact lenses could constitute as an ‘essential’ or urgent eye care need? There could also be a very serious underlying emergency if your child has a headache and is having issues reading or seeing properly.
For example, I recently had a mother of a nine-year-old reach out to me who noticed that her daughter consistently had headaches and was experiencing issues with reading and learning. Many parents understandably would be concerned to approach an eye doctor for help during a health pandemic, but for this family it made the world of a difference.
After testing, it was discovered that her daughter has Convergence Insufficiency — a common binocular vision disorder that involves misalignment of the eyes when focusing on nearby objects. This can lead to eyestrain, migraines, and can interfere with a person’s ability to see, read and learn. In this case, we were able to identify the problem early and refer the child to vision therapy to help strengthen her muscles.
When in doubt, it’s always best to reach out to your eye doctor to discuss any vision-related issues that your child may be facing.
What To Do In An Eye-Related Emergency?
If you are experiencing these vision-related symptoms, you should contact your eye doctor immediately to determine if you require further assistance. As hospitals struggle to keep up with the ongoing surge in patients from COVID-19, eye doctors are frontline providers of essential eye care, helping reduce the number of people going to an emergency room or hospital for emergency eye care needs. In fact, the American Optometric Association estimates that eye doctors can divert up to 10 percent of patients away from ERs and hospitals.
If you are unable to contact your eye doctor, there are other ways you can reach out for help. For example, you can call VSP’s customer care at 800-877-7195 to locate an eye doctor who can assist.
It’s not an easy time for anyone, especially when you have little ones to take care of. Just remember you are doing your best. Stay safe and take care of your families. We are there for you and together we will get through this.
Toy-Related Eye Injuries Are More Common Than You Think
While choking hazards and toxic chemical recalls associated with toys can cause anxiety for parents, eye injuries seem to receive slightly less attention. Children incur approximately 11,000 toy-related eye injuries each year. Common eye injuries caused by mishaps with toys can range from a minor scratch to the front surface of the eye (called a corneal abrasion) to very serious, sight-threatening injuries such as corneal ulcers, traumatic cataracts, bleeding inside the eye and retinal detachment. These eye emergencies can cause blurred vision in mild cases, or complete vision loss in others.
Keeping an eye on the dangers can be a lot more challenging in times when parents are working at home alongside their kids, however there are some things you can still do to prevent eye injuries:
- Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off or toys with small firing missiles or darts.
- Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges. Keep BB guns away from kids.
- Don’t give toys with small parts to young children.
- Store toys away after play to prevent falls.
- Make sure your child takes the time to put on protective eyewear or safety goggles if needed.
5 Most Dangerous Toys
Toy Sports Equipment
“Guns are the worst offenders of eye safety. Year after year, BB guns, paintball and pellet guns as well as missile firing toys continue to top the danger list.”
Dr. Nishan Pressley
VSP Network Eye Doctor
Dr. Nishan Pressley is a VSP Network Eye Doctor currently practicing at Florida Eye Clinic. She is passionate about increasing awareness about health and wellness in the community through her Instagram channel— Eyesonnish and YouTube channel, Eyesonnish TV. Dr. Pressley earned her Doctor of Optometry degree from The Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University. She is the first (and only) African-American to graduate from the Accelerated Scholars Optometry program, where she completed her doctorate degree in only 3 years. She currently serves on the executive board of the National Optometric Association as the Director of Communication. In her free time, she enjoys mentoring young students who are interested in the career of optometry.