Jump-Starting Your Car

Many people suffer severe eye injuries every year because they do not take proper precautions while jump-starting their car. A spark caused by hooking up the jumper cables can ignite fumes and cause the battery to explode. Battery acid and flying battery parts can blind you.

Here are few simple precautions to avoid a serious injury:

  • Wear protective goggles during all phases of the procedure. Keep a pair attached to your jumper cables.
  • Put out cigarettes before opening the hood. Use a flashlight, not a match, to look under the hood at night.
  • Be certain the vehicles are not in contact with each other.
  • Do not allow the cable clamps to touch each other.
  • Attach the positive (+) cable (red) to the positive terminal of the dead battery first. Then attach the other end of the positive cable to the good battery.
  • Attach the negative (-) cable (black) to the negative terminal of the good battery. Then attach the other end of the negative cable to the engine block away from the negative terminal. Do not attach a cable to the negative terminal of the dead battery.
  • Once the engine is started, carefully remove the cables in reverse order, again not allowing the clamps to touch.
  • Do not lean over the battery during the jumping process.

If an injury does occur, contact your ophthalmologist or go to the emergency room immediately.

Legal Blindness

Normal vision, or 20/20, means a person sees the smallest letters or pictures on an eye chart when standing 20 feet away from the chart. Some people cannot see normally, even with glasses or contacts, because a medical condition affects their vision. These people are called visually impaired or visually handicapped.

If a visual handicap limits vision to 20/200, or one-tenth of normal, a person is legally blind. Legally blind does not mean totally unable to see. Someone legally blind cannot see the line below the second big E at the top of the eye chart. People with 20/20 vision but less than 20 degrees of side vision can also qualify as legally blind. People who see well with only one eye are not considered legally blind, nor are people who wear glasses to see better than 20/200.

Most legally blind people function quite well, especially if they have been visually handicapped since childhood. Older children and adults with visual handicaps may need magnifying lenses for reading and telescopes for distance viewing. People with very poor vision may need to learn Braille and walk with a seeing-eye dog or a cane.

Young children with visual impairments should have help from a teacher of the visually impaired and should be evaluated for developmental problems by professionals experienced with visual handicaps. Parents may need to be advocates for their child to obtain needed services through the school system.

Visually handicapped people of all ages benefit from social service, occupational therapy, and orientation and mobility training. Many new devices are available to cope with vision loss, including books on audio tapes, scanners that turn print into Braille, watches that can be “read” with the fingers, and talking computers and calculators.

Living With One Good Eye

People who lose vision in one eye because of an injury or a medical condition must adapt to a narrower field of vision and loss of depth perception. They still see small objects as well as before, assuming the other eye is normal.

People often think children with strabismus (misalignment of the eye) or amblyopia (lazy eye) have poor depth perception because they have trouble using two eyes together. Although these children do poorly on tests of depth perception in an ophthalmologist’s office, they have learned to adapt from an early age. In real-world circumstances, they do not have trouble with depth perception.

At first, adults who lose vision in one eye tend to have a few fender-benders, and reach out next to the hand they want to shake. But with patience and time, they learn to use clues to depth perception that do not require both eyes.