Scary Eye Injuries that Happen at Christmas!
Christmas tree branches and needle injuries
You guessed it folks… In at number 1, we have the predictable Christmas tree branch and needle eye injuries. Whether the tree is real or fake, you are at risk of getting a branch or needle in the eye that definitely should not be there! These injuries can cause corneal abrasion, also known as a scratched eye, infections if left untreated, penetrating eye injury and scarring which can lead to a reduction in vision.
What to do if you get a branch in your eye?
Use eyewash, saline solution or running tap water to flush the eye out. See a doctor or go to the emergency room as soon as possible If you can’t get the particles out of your eye or if it still feels like there’s something in your eye after you’ve gotten the material out. And no matter how hard it is, do not rub your eyes!
Kids toys that cause eye injuries
Ahhhh the joys of being a parent at Christmas. As if you didn’t have enough to worry about… now you have to worry about whether or not that present request from Santa is going to injure them! Light sabers, wands and swords can have sharp edges and cause eye trauma. Dart guns, paintball guns, BB guns and airsoft rifles launch objects that can cause lacerations, increased eye pressure, cataracts and vision loss.
And if all of that isn’t bad enough, the emergency room at your local hospital will be packed around Christmas. An increased number in all sorts of accidents combined with understaffing do not make for a quick visit. Not the place you want to end up to be avoided for several hours with an upset little one.
Solution: Projectile toys are never safe, so avoid purchasing toy guns for children.
Corneal ulcers called ‘Christmas Eye’ caused by tiny beetles
You read that right… Beetles. Dubbed ‘Christmas eye‘ due to it being most common during the Australian summer, and specifically, during the Christmas period in a region called Albury-Wodonga. About 300km northeast of Melbourne.
The tiny beetle, measuring less than 1mm, can cause corneal ulcerations resulting in severe pain. This occurs when an Orthoperus Beetle enters the eye. If the eye is rubbed, the beetle can be crushed. Upon death, the beetle’s body excretes a toxin called pederin which is a blistering agent.
Extreme and unbearable pain is what usually leads a diagnosis of this. When a person is diagnosed with Christmas Eye they undergo minimal symptoms, but they are highly severe. An individual with Christmas Eye experiences extreme eye pain, a swollen and watery eye and itchy and burning lesions on the cornea. The pain level most commonly ranges to a score of 8 or 9 out of 10, but during the early stages it could be less depending on the degree of corneal disruptions.
Now, if this doesn’t sound beyond awful then we don’t know what does.
Champagne corks travel up to 80kph
A time to celebrate. That’s why we pop champagne. But some people end up in hospital after a misguided cork hits them in the eye or the surrounding eye area. Definitely not the Christmas day celebration you were hoping for.
The damage from a champagne cork eye injury can be devastating. The eye can split open, bones around the eye can fracture, intraocular bleeding can occur and retina’s can detach (1). The cork can travel up to 80kph so it’s easy to imagine how it could cause potentially blinding injuries. The cork is also perfectly sized to evade the protective bones around the eye and deliver a direct hit to the eye’s delicate structure.
Top tips for opening a champagne bottle:
Always face the bottle away from yourself and others during the entire opening process. Tilt to a 45 degree angle.
Do not open a bottle of champagne that is not chilled, the increase in temperature can increase the amount of pressure within the bottle causing a dangerous projectile.
Artificial snow spray
People use artificial snow, usually from an aerosol can, to decorate a plethora of things during the festive period. Christmas trees, windows, decorations, presents, arts & craft activities and so on.
Artificial snow spray induced ocular injuries can be an emergency in some cases, but usually, with thorough irrigation, the injury can be managed from home. Red, sore eyes are usually the result from getting artificial snow sprayed in the face or eye. It is recommended to wear protective eyewear during use and never spray towards another person.
Rinsing the eye continually with water (preferably room temp) or saline is the best way to treat the eye immediately. Depending on symptoms, you may need to visit a doctor or the emergency room.
So… What have we learned?
Try your best to enjoy your Christmas period injury free! Think about the implications of each task before you resume. Take the time to wear the appropriate safety equipment. Most importantly, keep your eyes protected! Our sight is our most precious commodity.
References: Wikipedia / Prevent Eye Injuries at Christmas / What to do if branch or needle in eye / Christmas eye beetle / Champagne cork / Artificial snow spray: China
**None of the information in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.**