Young Australians don't seem to take adequate care of their eyes while attending to chores at home - consequently they fall victim to avoidable eye injuries.
Failure to wear appropriate eye protection when carrying out backyard chores such as mowing the lawn or do-it-yourself repairs and renovations has emerged as one of the largest causes of serious preventable eye injuries, a conference for the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine was told in Canberra today.
Doctor Carmel Crock, emergency department director at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, expressed concern over the current lax approach to safety.
"The common things were power tools, things like high-velocity power saws, hammering, wire either barbed wire or fencing wire that flicks back, nail guns - they are the big ones," said Dr Crock.
She felt up to 90 per cent of the injuries could have been prevented if the victim had been wearing goggle-style eye protection.
More than 45 per cent of penetrating eye injuries and ruptured globes treated in the Royal Victorian Hospital in Melbourne last year were a result of accidents that occurred at home. About 27 per cent of the injuries occurred at work.
''The injuries are to everyday young blokes doing do-it-yourself gardening, lawn mowing, some of the things that people don't appreciate can be rather high risk.
''It looks like up to three quarters of the time they are not wearing goggles when they should be wearing goggles.''
Almost one third of the 77 patients reviewed were suffering from legal blindness three months after their accident.
Dr Crock said eye protection should be worn when welding, grinding, hammering, sawing, lawn mowing, whipper snipping or using any type of power tool.
"And the people it is affecting is young males. They are in their teens and early 20s which is why it is such a tragedy, because it is preventable."
"Safety spectacles are not enough for something that is high impact - it can still ricochet underneath - you need proper wide-vision safety goggles," Dr Crock said.
Without early treatment, a punctured eyeball can result in the loss of an eye while many of those injured still report some level of vision loss three months after their accident.
EDs across the country handle about 125,000 cases of eye injury every year, and Dr Crock said more could also be done from a public policy perspective to prevent these injuries.
"If you go to a do-it-yourself shop, it is amazing what you can buy and they are not required to sell you goggles," she said.
"We don't sell cars without seatbelts - I'm wondering whether we are doing enough about eye injuries."