Many eye injuries easily prevented

Each year, at least one million Americans suffer eye injuries, one of the most common traumas treated in hospital emergency rooms. But according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 90 percent of these incidents can be prevented.

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology Ted Wojno says one of the best ways to prevent eye injuries is to wear protective glasses or goggles.

"Dozens of my patients wish they had been wearing eye protection before their injuries," Wojno says. "Children should wear safety glasses during sports such as softball, especially if they need vision correction. Anyone involved in woodworking, lawn mowing, or operating leaf blowers; changing or charging an auto battery; or working with any chemicals that might splash or emit fumes toward the eyes should wear protective glasses or goggles."

Even the most innocuous toys or everyday objects can result in injury and possible blindness. Among the most notorious causes are BB guns; scissors, pencils, and pens carried by small children while running; debris kicked up from lawn mowers and leaf blowers; insects caught in a bicyclist's eye; rubber darts, giant squirt guns, and racquetballs; car battery acid; and mascara wands, when make-up is applied while driving a car.

Treating eye injuries

Juvenile eye defects can be overcome

The years between birth and age seven are critical to visual development in children. Visual sensory deprivation during this time can lead to blindness in one or both eyes, says Associate Professor of Ophthalmology Scott Lambert. Although most children are not at risk, blindness can be prevented in those who are.

Cataracts, a clouding of the eye's internal focusing lens, are a significant cause of visual sensory deprivation among children. Although cataracts are more frequently associated with the elderly, children can be born with them or may acquire them through trauma or disease.

To ensure that the eyes of young cataract patients provide accurate visual information to the brain, doctors prescribe corrective eye glasses or contact lenses. But such remedies work only if the children assiduously wear their corrective lenses. However, Lambert says this is not always the case. In fact, he says he knows of patients who have lost their eyesight because they failed to comply with doctors' recommendations.

Lambert and other Emory pediatric eye surgeons have found that implanting permanent intraocular lenses easily solves the compliance problem, particularly in patients who have traumatic cataracts in one eye. He has implanted the polymer lenses in more than thirty young cataract patients.

Pioneering ophthalmologist Calhoun dies

F. Phinizy Calhoun Jr., a physician and longtime faculty member who is credited with bringing the practice of modern ophthalmology to Georgia, died June 21. He was eighty-four.

A native Atlantan, Calhoun was the scion of a prominent medical family and the great-grandson of A.B. Calhoun, who in 1854 helped found the Atlanta Medical College, one of the institutions that later combined to form the Emory University School of Medicine. Phinizy Calhoun's grandfather, Abner W. Calhoun, was one of the South's first specialists in diseases of the eye and ear. In 1947, Calhoun himself performed the first cornea transplant in Georgia.

A 1932 graduate of the University of Georgia, Calhoun received his M.D. degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1936. He did his postgraduate training at the Eye Institute of Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York. Following service in France with the Army Medical Corps during World War II, he joined the Emory medical faculty in 1941.

Under Calhoun's direction, ophthalmology was established as a separate department within the medical school, and he served as its chairman from 1950 to 1978. In 1955, Calhoun established the Georgia chapter of the Society to Prevent Blindness. He was responsible for the first preschool vision and glaucoma screenings in the state. He retired from his academic duties in 1979. An endowed professorship was created in his honor in 1991.

Calhoun was the son of F. Phinizy Calhoun Sr., who in 1919 was appointed professor of ophthalmology at the Emory School of Medicine, where he served for twenty years. He was elected a trustee of the University and in 1954 was awarded an honorary doctorate. The University has also established in his name an endowed professorship in the Department of Ophthalmology.

--compiled by Andrew W.M. Beierle

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