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July 2007 Issue

Proper eye protection is encouraged during the summer, especially in July when firework use is common.
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Summer Months Yield the Most Cases of Severe Eye Damage

By Katie Pence
Published July 2007

A pair of shades during the summer months isn't the only precaution needed to keep your peepers safe, says a UC expert.


Paul Brannan, MD, an adjunct instructor of ophthalmology who specializes in eye reconstructive surgery, says between Memorial Day and Labor Day he's flooded with patients who have severely damaged their eyes.


 "It's like clockwork, and usually, alcohol is involved," he says.


Although protecting your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays is important, sun damage isn't the most common eye injury during the summer, Brannan says.


"Firework and paintball injuries are at the top of the list," Brannan says. "Often, people will go to inspect a firework that hasn't gone off, and it ends up detonating in their face."


He adds that many people choose not to wear goggles during paintball games, which can also lead to eye injuries.


"Getting hit in the face with a paintball will often blow the eyeball right out of the socket," he says.


Brannan suggests always wearing some sort of eye protection when participating in any physical outdoor sport, such as paintball or riding four-wheelers.


He adds that even if a lit firework seems to be a dud, never assume that it is.


"Never pick up a firework that was once lit and put it to your face," he says. "That's a mistake many people make. Never assume that it won't reignite, and leave it alone until you're sure that it's out."


Brannan says that even though the sun doesn't cause the most common eye injuries during the summer, UV protection should always be considered.


"It's very easy to burn your corneas if you're out in the sun for a long period of time," he says. "It's a superficial burn that's gone in about a week, but it can be very uncomfortable.


"It's important for people to use their common sense and think twice before engaging in any activities that may injure their eyes. Their sight may depend on it." 


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