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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

With Hurricane Matthew Moving Closer: Helpful Hurricane Tips from Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Posted: 10.04.2016

As you monitor Hurricane Matthew’s path, — and finalize preparations in the heart of this hurricane season – be sure to take care of your own eyes. The last thing people think about is their eyes while preparing for hurricanes, but it should be one of the first. 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, 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 Eduardo C. Alfonso, MD, professor and chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Health System. “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 hardware or home improvement 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 if 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

  • Purchase a pair of safety glasses, shatter-proof goggles or a face shield for every family member.
  • 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 in Miami 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 3, 4 or 5 hurricane, the eye-emergency room is moved to University of Miami Hospital, 1400 NW 12 Avenue, Miami.

About Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is ranked the nation’s best in ophthalmology by U.S. News & World Report, an honor it has received for the 15th time. In addition to its international reputation as one of the premier providers of eye care in the world, Bascom Palmer is the largest ophthalmic care, research and educational facility in the southeastern United States. Each year, more than 250,000 patients are treated with nearly every ophthalmic condition and more than 18,000 surgeries are performed. With four patient care facilities in Florida (Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples and Plantation), the Institute serves as the Department of Ophthalmology for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, part of UHealth-University of Miami Health System. Bascom Palmer faculty members also staff the Miami and West Palm Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, Jackson Memorial Hospital and Miami Children’s Hospital. For information on Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, contact Marla Bercuson at (305) 326-6190 or mbercuson@med.miami.edu, or visit www.bascompalmer.org.