Protect Your Eyes

Fireworks displays are a favorite activity during the Fourth of July. It's also a dangerous activity with many first responder groups urging caution. The also encourage people to enjoy public displays as opposed to setting off fireworks in backyards. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker visited with one physician who is encouraging people to protect their eyes.

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A visit to the doctor can be scary enough, the large equipment sometimes used to examine eyes can be intimidating. Kelsey-Seybold Pediatric Ophthalmologist Mahduri Chilakapati has a special box of goodies to help kids get comfortable.

"I use it to get little kids, sometimes older kids, attention. There's a variety of toys in here. Some of them are just to help them, this is a little Cinderella toy that get's their attention. Here's like a spinning flower with lights on it. They'll often focus on so it helps me assess whether they are seeing, if they follow it. It helps me to make their eyes move to see if their crossing and moving normally."

This time of year, Chilakapati thinks of summer activities that can land adults and especially kids in the chair at the eye doctor. One is firecrackers. Chilakapati figures that about 20 percent of firework injuries involve the eyes.

"Let's take the worst case scenerio, a firework explodes in your eye. Do not touch it. I know that it so counter-intuitive. Do not rub it because you can cause further damage. If that happens, put like a plastic cup over the eye so no one can rub it and go to the emergency room immediately."

Chilakapati says it's good idea to have a way to irrigate the eyes should some smaller particles get into the eye to flush it out. Another issue is blunt trauma to the eye from contact sports and other activity. A burst blood vessell will cause a red spot on the white part of the eye. Chilakapati says the greater concern is bleeding within the eye.

"It causes decreased vision in the short term, but in the long term it can cause decreased vision if not managed properly. So if you do have significant blunt trauma to the eye, you should see an eye doctor. And if it's something like an elbow to the eye you can actually break some of the bones around the eye and that needs to be followed carefully."

Every year, there are about 40,000 eye trauma incidents for those under 25 years of age. The vast majority are preventable.

"Wear safety googles. They sell some really cool ones now if you actually do some research and look. The look like hip sunglasses."

And speaking of sun glasses, Chilakapati encourages sun glasses to protect the eyes from the UV rays of the sun. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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