Bungee cords (and bungee jumping) can be dangerous to your eye health

Probably just a small percentage of this blog’s readers have ever jumped off a bridge tied to what is essentially a gigantic rubber band. Most of us are content to view the sport of bungee jumping from a safe distance, given how easily the mind can conjure up visions of what the result would be in the event the cord were to snap.

But whether you happen to be a bungee-jumping thrill-seeker (and more power to you by the way – I wish you many safe and enjoyable jumps), someone who is considering making the leap for the first time, or someone totally content simply with using small bungee cords to help secure items, I hope you’ll take a few moments to think about your eye health.

Photo by: Krypto

The small bungee cords that you and I probably have around our homes have a variety of uses. They keep luggage from flying off our car roofs, keep tablecloths from blowing off picnic tables and secure cargo in utility trailers, to name just a few. But the elasticity that makes them so useful is also what makes them dangerous. If suddenly released, either from your hand or in the event of snapping, the end of a stretched bungee cord can travel at speeds up to 60 mph. And that cord end might have a metal hook or hard plastic ball attached to it. The implications of that hook or ball impacting the eye at that speed could be very traumatic and certainly put vision at risk.

So, when you are using bungee cords around the house, be sure to:

  • Wear eye protection
  • Use the right-size cord for the job
  • Keep your kids away from them (certainly don’t let them use bungee cords as toys)

And when it comes to the sport of bungee jumping, the risk to life and limb is obvious. If a cord suspended several hundred feet over a rocky river bed breaks (or the cord is too long, or its elasticity has been misjudged), the person impacting the river bed is not very likely to survive. The result would be at best devastating, and likely result in crippling injuries.

But, as this article points out even a “successful” jump can result in severe injuries to the spine and neck—and put the eyes at risk.

“Eye injuries are commonly the result of bungee jumps because of the dangerously high increase in pressure that occurs in the eyes,” the article states. “When the elastic cord suddenly jerks you upward, it causes fluid to flow to your head, which results in very high blood pressure inside the blood vessels in your eyes.” This sudden increase in blood pressure, the authors state, can negatively affect the retina and the conjunctiva, the thin mucous lining over the eyes. The results may include temporary vision impairment, eye infections, “seeing spots” and hemorrhages within the eye.

So, if you are a considering your first bungee jump, be sure to have a comprehensive eye examination beforehand to rule out any conditions that might be exacerbated by the sport. And if you are a veteran bungee jumper who hasn’t had an eye exam in a while, what are you waiting for?

Be safe!

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