We’re all going a bit lockdown loopy. We’re losing it, confronted with lunacy caused by the looming of more days and weeks behind locked doors. It sucks.
But that’s no excuse for not looking after your health. We all have time to kill and a lot of people are spending theirs on gardening and do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvements. A great idea if done safely — but please, don’t risk your eyesight in the process!
One of the more unexpected side effects of the coronavirus pandemic is the rise in hospital admissions for traumatic eye injuries due to gardening and DIY. This is particularly acute in the U.K. where DIY enjoys considerable popularity. Unfortunately for many British citizens, their DIY ability is vastly outweighed by their enthusiasm.
This doesn’t exactly lend itself to a culture of health and safety. And since cornea operations are essentially cancelled for the time being, it’s a bad time to get hurt.
Doctors Make the Worst Patients
Before you think this only affects dunces and dolts who think they’re good with bolts, think again. Doctors are coming down with what’s been termed as “self-trauma injury.”Among them is Australian TV veterinarian Dr. Chris Brown. Dr. Brown took to gardening to pass the time and ended up getting sprayed in the eye with toxic sap that can cause blindness. He had to receive emergency treatment for an ulcerated eye.
Dr Brown would have done well to follow the UK’s National Health Service’s (NHS) guidelines on eye safety. The service recommends wearing some form of eyeglasses to protect yourself from stray sap and garden debris. The same warning applies to DIY activities.
FYI, the NHS recommends you wear impact resistant polycarbonate lenses with a British or CE standard kitemark.
Ripples Across the Medical Pond
Whether it’s cultivating a green thumb or fixing up furniture, many people are putting themselves in harm’s way. This has a major ripple effect as each case of preventable injury is a further burden on already overstretched healthcare systems.
According to the NHS, 20,000 people receive eye injuries in the U.K. every year thanks to DIY. These range from minor irritations to full lacerations caused by home improvement enthusiasts failing to wear sufficient eye protection.
Given that a veterinarian failed to follow medical guidelines. we shouldn’t be surprised most laypeople are doing the same. It’s no wonder hospitals are witnessing a rise in eye-related hospital admissions — people are both bored and frustrated.
Astonishing Rise in Eye Surgery
Oxford Eye Hospital is one of the England’s largest ophthalmology centers; staff there have warned they are finding it difficult to cope.
According to consultant ophthalmologist Dr. Stella Horny, the eye hospital usually sees one traumatic injury every two to three weeks. Since the coronavirus crisis began admissions have skyrocketed. In one week alone, six people received treatment for a traumatic eye injury.
At minimum this represents an astonishing rise of 1,100%.
“We’re seeing patients with more serious eye injuries who have needed operations to repair injuries which could potentially result in sight loss,” Dr Hornby said. “We think this is because people are locked down and they might be doing more DIY or gardening at home without using eye protection.”
Dr. Hornby is now warning people in the U.K. to adhere to NHS eye safety guidelines when doing any sort of DIY. While it’s too late for some, increased awareness of the issue now should hopefully assist in preventing more mishaps.
Some health boards are overwhelmed and unable to release statistics given the massive influx of coronavirus patients. That said anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that Oxford Eye Hospital’s rise in cases is not a localized phenomena.
Speaking off the record, a practice nurse at Gartnavel General Hospital in Glasgow, one of Scotland’s largest ophthalmology clinics, said she’s seen a considerable rise in admissions due to traumatic eye injuries. This increase has risen steadily ever since the introduction of lockdown measures in the U.K. on March 23. A spokesperson for NHS Wales said that information on eye injuries caused by DIY and other activities was not currently available but that admissions were up to an exponential degree.
Ain’t Nobody got Time for Preventable Surgery
We can all agree that people really should know to look after their eyes better. Many an ophthalmologist has probably screamed that in their head when faced with a recalcitrant patient — so imagine the frustration of doctors inundated with completely preventable injuries.
As someone once said in a viral YouTube video regarding a bronchitis diagnosis; “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” Right now, ophthalmology really “ain’t got time” for more preventable surgeries.
A good recommendation for ophthalmology professionals would be to write to their patients warning them of the perils of gardening, home improvement and other potentially hazardous activities. They could also inform their patients of the safety measures they should be taking to protect their eyes.
We are all in this crisis together, so people, look after your eyes in the lockdown.