Why You Need Protective Eyewear if You Have a Prosthesis
The incredible blend of art and science that produces prosthetic eyes has enabled thousands of people who have lost an eye to continue living a normal life. One risk that doesn’t get enough attention, however, is that with only one natural eye remaining, you must go to great extra lengths to protect it. Protective eyewear is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for anyone who wears a prosthesis.
Eye Injury Statistics
About 700,000 Americans injure their eyes every year — and that’s just at work. That’s about 2000 per day. Another 125,000 suffer eye injuries at home or doing other activities. 40,000 kids and adults sustain eye injuries playing sports every year.
About 90% of these injuries could have been prevented had the person been wearing suitable eye protection. Some injuries can lead to permanent loss of vision or the need to wear an artificial eye.
Who Is Most at Risk for Eye Injuries?
Certain occupations are at higher risk for eye injuries. Most of these aren’t surprising. Jobs that are risky for the eyes include construction workers, electricians, auto repair technicians, and plumbers. But also, miners, welders, and anyone who works with heat and light is at risk of eye injuries at work.
One survey of workers who suffered eye injuries on the job found that about 60% of them were not wearing eye protection.
Beyond work, anyone can injure their eyes due to sharp objects or unexpected things falling at the wrong time. This happens all the time, usually without warning, when you’re working on home repair projects or car maintenance, or doing sports and recreation.
Also, some chemicals can cause permanent eye damage. And not just ‘laboratory’ chemicals. Household chemicals such as hairspray and certain cleaners can cause terrible eye damage.
How Prosthetic Eye Owners Can Protect Both of Their Eyes
If you are wearing a prosthesis, all of the above applies to you even more, because you only have one natural eye remaining. So while you’re still able to live a normal life and do all of the above activities, you should strongly consider investing in quality eye protection that will adapt well to the activities you enjoy.
Beyond your natural eye, you also need to protect your prosthesis. If that gets damaged, you will need to get a new one, and might have to go without it until the replacement can be fashioned. You also must be careful not to lose it, and certain activities greatly increase the risk of this happening.
Here are some suggestions that come from our many years of experience working with people who wear artificial eyes:
1. Watch Out for Water Sports
Swimming, diving, and water skiing have led to more lost prosthetic eyes than just about any other activity. These sports involve a lot of bouncing, bumping, and sudden movements. If your prosthesis gets bounced out, you may never find it.
If you want to engage in these activities, you have two choices. First, you can wear protective eyewear that holds your eye in place. This means more than just glasses. A patch or very tight goggles that adhere to your face is what you want. Your second and only assured option is to just go without the prosthesis while doing that activity.
2. Get Several Pairs of Strong Protective Eyewear
You’ll want eye protection for different situations. Sometimes, protective glasses will be enough. Other times, you’ll want something that completely shields your prosthesis. For example, if alcohol, certain solvents and cleaners, or hairspray come in contact with your prosthetic eye, they can permanently damage it.
What does ‘strong’ mean when it comes to eyewear? You want something shatterproof. Good protective eyewear is often made with polycarbonate material or something of similar hardness.
You can get eyewear with straps that fit tightly to your face for situations like swimming, and other eyewear that fits more loosely but still provides strong protection.
Remember, you’re protecting your prosthesis because you don’t want to damage it or your eye socket, and you don’t want to lose it. And, you’re protecting your natural eye.
3. Teach Kids with Prosthetic Eyes the Importance of Protection
Did you know that children who have only one natural eye are eight times more likely to suffer an injury to or a total loss of the other eye? That’s an incredible statistic.
If your child has a prosthesis, please put a high priority on protecting both their eyes and teaching them to make a habit of it as they grow up. Teach them about the importance of their remaining natural eye and of the importance of keeping the prosthesis from being damaged or lost. Make it clear that protective eyewear is their best line of defense.
Also, if your child has a prosthesis because of retinoblastoma, here’s a nonprofit called Specs for Little Heroes that gives away free protective eyewear to kids who need it.
For adults as well as children, even if your natural eye still has 2020 vision, you will want the protective eyewear for the reasons you’ve just seen.
Whether working or playing, be aware of your surroundings, and learn how to assess any reasonable threats to the safety of your natural eye and the integrity of your prosthesis. Then, when you need them, have protective eyewear at hand so you’re always prepared.