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4 Best Ways To Protect Your Eyes at Mardi Gras 2024

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The turn of a new year means one thing for Louisiana residents: Mardi Gras season is here. The sounds of marching bands, the immaculate floats, Mardi Gras parties and balls – the list goes on and on. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun, but it’s important not to forget what it takes to stay safe during this busy time.

As a Louisiana ophthalmologist, I’m particularly concerned about the potential danger that Mardi Gras parades can pose to people’s eyes as they try to catch the best throws. Eye injuries of all types occur at a rate of more than 2,000 per day. However, simply taking a few precautions and wearing the correct eyewear can prevent more than 90% of reported eye injuries.

When it comes to preventing eye injuries, early detection and treatment is key. In extreme circumstances such as a penetrating eye injury, vision loss or eyelid lacerations, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has come up with some general eye safety tips for your everyday life. I have added a few notes as well that specifically relate to Mardi Gras safety for those who are new to the parading scene and may not know what to expect.

  1. Keep your head on a swivel: During parade season, the No. 1 rule to preventing injuries is to know your situation. Are floats rolling through? Is a band walking through? These are questions that will help you understand when objects might be flying out of nowhere. Your senses should be on high alert when the floats roll by because they are throwing lots of toys, beads and more objects that could be harmful. Stay off your phone and soak in the sights. You can’t dodge or catch an object if you don’t see it coming, so less phone time is a good thing on parade days. Keep in mind little kids as well. They are having the time of their life, but one bad throw and it can cause some tears. The good thing is that most eye injuries from flying beads aren’t serious, but we would still like to try and prevent them.
  2. How close to the floats are you? Be cognizant of your location in relation to the floats as well. Are you 5 yards away or 20 yards away? Chances are, the farther away you are from the float the more force the objects are going to have. Float riders might have to put a little more oomph behind a toss if they are trying to reach the people farther back. Do keep in mind these float riders might not have the best accuracy. So while never intentional, their tosses might miss somebody they made eye contact with by a couple of yards or so. I can guarantee you they don’t have the accuracy that Drew Brees did, so some tosses might go wayward and find an unintended target.
  3. Did you catch something? Who knows what you might catch during the parade but do make sure to examine it before using. For instance, is the trinket you caught damaged? Putting it on without inspecting it could lead to scratches or cuts on your skin if the trinket is damaged. Keep a close eye on your kids and what they are picking up/catching as well. They don’t know any better. They see a possible toy to have fun with. But what if its edges are sharp? One wrong swing or move could cause injury. So just be wary of what your kids are playing with at the parade.
  4. Wear some shades: You never know the kind of weather we are going to get during parade season. Do make sure to find a pair of shades that you can wear during the parades if the sun is out. They will help block dangerous UV rays while you are outside for an : extended amount of time. Forty-eight degrees or 68 degrees, it doesn’t matter; if the sun is out I recommend throwing on some shades. If shades aren’t your style, think about wearing a straw hat or bucket hat.

Does my health insurance cover an eye injury?

This is a question we get a lot. Does my medical insurance cover eye injuries? The answer is yes. Your medical insurance covers eye care in relation to a medical condition or injury. Vision insurance is for eye exams, new frames/lenses and other vision services.

Eye injuries outside of parade season

In my practice, the most common cause of serious eye injuries has been the result of weed whackers and other fast-moving machinery that launch projectiles like gravel at great distances and speed. The projectiles can even go as far as hitting a next-door neighbor’s eye, causing a serious injury.

Here are some other general eye safety rules. They are good suggestions for preventing eye injuries 365 days a year.

  • Never use fireworks. Even sparklers burn hot enough to melt gold.
  • Be careful with household chemicals, since many can burn your eyes’ delicate tissue.
  • Always wear appropriate eye protection when playing sports.
  • Check for rocks and debris before mowing the lawn or trimming the hedges.
  • Wear goggles during yard work or when performing other chores that require the use of heavy machinery which can dislodge small particles and propel them at face-level.

All eye injuries should be treated as potential emergencies, so do not hesitate to contact your eye doctor immediately if something goes wrong. You only get one pair of eyes, so be sure you do everything you can to protect yours!

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