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Tips from Bascom Palmer Eye Institute to Protect your Eyes Before and After a Hurricane


Proper protection can prevent the vast majority of eye injuries

Miami: As you monitor Hurricane Irene 's path, and finalize preparations in the heart of this hurricane season, be sure to take care of your own eyes. Many eye injuries happen during storm preparations, from nails ricocheting off storm shutters and debris falling during tree trimming, to household chemicals splashing into the eyes. According to officials at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, being prepared and alert to vision threats can help prevent the vast majority of hurricane-related eye injuries.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the nation's top-ranked eye hospital, offers guidelines to reduce the risk of injury before, during and after storms. "I advise people that their hurricane supplies should include a pair of safety glasses, shatter-proof goggles or a face shield for each family member who will take part in storm preparation and clean-up,"” said Dr. Eduardo C. Alfonso, professor and chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "Everyone should wear safety eyewear whenever there is a chance of injury, including children."

According to the U.S. Eye Injury Registry, 2.5 million eye injuries occur nationally each year, with an estimated 40 percent happening in the home. "Ninety percent of such injuries are preventable if you take safety precautions and use common sense," noted Dr. Alfonso. The "wraparound " design of safety goggles or glasses with side shields, available at most hardware stores, makes them an effective defense against various hurricane-related injuries, he advised.

Additional hurricane eye safety guidelines from Bascom Palmer Eye Institute include:

Reduce your risk

  • Wear safety eyewear while putting up shutters or plywood - especially when hammering nails into wood or concrete.

  • Make sure your hammer head fits snugly and all of your tools are in good condition.

  • If glass is breaking during the storm, put on protective eyewear.

  • Always read directions and labels carefully before using cleaning fluids, chemicals and gases.

  • Work in a well-ventilated area, and be sure spray nozzles point away from you and others. After using cleaning fluids or chemicals, wash your hands thoroughly.

  • Insist that children wear safety goggles when they are present during storm preparation or clean-up.

  • Avoid swimming in pools or other water attractions that may have become contaminated from storm water.

  • Prepare Your Supplies

  • Make sure you have enough eye medications, especially for conditions like glaucoma, dry eyes, infections, inflammations, and transplant rejection medication.

  • Keep your eyeglasses in a safe place where you can easily find them.

  • Keep sufficient supplies of contact lenses and their cleaning solutions.

  • Hurricane First Aid Eye Care Tips

  • If sand, dust or other particles get into your eye, do not rub. Wash your eye out with purified water.

  • Avoid using tap water in your eye after a hurricane, due to the fact that stagnant water may become contaminated.

  • If debris hit the area around the eye, apply cold cloths for 15 minutes to reduce swelling. If swelling persists, go to the doctor as soon as possible.

  • If a sharp object like a twig or nail enters your eye, do not pull it out. Put a loose bandage on the eye and do not apply pressure. Go to a hospital emergency room immediately.

  • If chemicals, cleaning fluids or gasoline get into your eyes, gently wash the eyes with water for at least 10 minutes. Go to a doctor or emergency room immediately.

  • Emergency Care

  • In the event of an eye emergency, call Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at 305 326-6000.

  • Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s emergency room is open 365 days a year/ 24 hours a day.

  • Bascom Palmer’s emergency room is located at 900 NW 17th Street, Miami. During a category 4 or 5 hurricane, the eye-emergency room is moved to University of Miami Hospital, 1400 NW 12 Avenue, Miami.

  • About Bascom Palmer

    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is ranked the #1 eye hospital in the nation, as noted in U.S. News & World Report. Having earned an international reputation as one of the premier providers of eye care in the world, Bascom Palmer has also been ranked #1 in patient care and residency training by Ophthalmology Times. As the largest ophthalmic care, research and educational facility in the southeastern United States, each year Bascom Palmer treats more than 250,000 patients with nearly every ophthalmic condition and performs more than 12,000 surgeries. Founded in 1962, Bascom Palmer has patient care facilities in Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples, and Plantation, Florida. For additional information about Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, e-mail us at bpeicommunications@med.miami.edu.