Bellin expert: Avoid trimmer trouble, use eye protection

05/05/2009

BRILLION — When it comes to landscaping, a lawn trimmer makes it a snap to put the finishing touches on a garden or yard. Such tools are the second most popular lawn implements – behind lawnmowers – among gardeners and homeowners.

Unfortunately, lawn trimmers are the fifth-leading cause of penetrating eye injuries, according to Dr. Jamie Ertl, optometrist, at Bellin Eye Clinic, 964 West Ryan St.

Each year, trimmers cause more than 1,500 eye injuries. Operating at speeds up to 8,500 revolutions per minute, these trimmers spin off tiny fragments of nylon line, which can enter the eye along with dirt and grass debris. The result can be disastrous – corneal lacerations and fungal infections severe enough to threaten sight.

Trimmers aren’t the only danger when working in the yard or garden. Small stones from a lawnmower’s blade can also cause eye injury, and tree or bush branches can cause painful scratches to the eye. Dust from fertilizers and weed killers can cause burns and irritations.

Ertl offers the following advice to help prevent eye injuries in the home garden environment:
· Wear wrap-around safety goggles made of polycarbonate, the strongest lens material available. Look for the label, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 standards.
· Don’t rely on ordinary prescription glasses for eye safety. They are not safety eyewear.
· Wear sunglasses that block 99 to100 percent of the sun’s UV-A and UV-B ultraviolet radiation and screen out 75 to 90 percent of light.
· When picking out sunglasses if you can see your eyes through the lenses, the glasses are not dark enough. Look for a gray tint lens, as to not distort color perception.
· Cover the sharp tips of bamboo or metal stakes (often used for tomato or climbing plants) with plastic wire nuts to prevent an accidental puncture wound.

If an eye injury occurs, apply these emergency care procedures and then seek treatment immediately at a hospital emergency room:
· For chemical splashes, flood the eye non-stop with low-pressure water for 15 minutes to dilute or remove the chemical.
· For blows to the eye, apply cold compresses for 15 minutes.
· Never wash an eye that is cut or punctured. Bandage it lightly and go to the hospital.
· If an object is stuck in the eye, leave it there and seek treatment at the hospital.
· For foreign material in the eye, don’t rub. Lift the upper eyelid outward and pull it down over the lower lashes. This will cause tears, which can flush the foreign matter out. If not, seek the treatment at the hospital.

Remember to have an eye examination every year or two. Good vision is needed to read instructions on seed packages, fertilizer bags and weed killer bottles and for spotting those pesky weeds.

For more information, please call Bellin Eye Clinic at (920) 756-3242.