Avoiding a Fishhook Eye Injury
It’s the perfect Alaskan day. You’re up early, your gear is gathered, and you’re headed to the river as fast as you can. After dozens of berating text messages from your buddies who got there before you, you already feel like you’re missing out on the action. After all, it’s a gorgeous summer day, you’re FINALLY off work and you’ve got nothing on your mind except what fishhook to use while targeting fresh chromers. You can already smell the fresh salmon on the grill, can almost taste the new marinade you’ve been tweaking, and are looking forward to entire experience on the river.
Because your mind was on so many other things, you left your glasses in the truck. You know, the Gucci Costa’s you finally snagged this year. Polarized, lightweight, glass lenses so they don’t scratch easily and they DEFINITELY help you catch more fish. ‘Ahh, I’ll be fine without the polarized lenses, there’s so many fish in the river I shouldn’t have a hard time seeing them without the glasses. I may have to squint because its bright out, but I’ll be fine’, you think to yourself. Little did you know that above your waders, your fishhook and tackle, your bait, and even your rod and reel itself, the one piece of gear that you would have wished you had remembered were the glasses. The day started like you always like to say to your buddies…FIRST CAST! You hook up and the fish turns downriver and runs like a freight train. The tension on the line is ever increasing, but you got a good hook-set and feel confident. Then. Bang! What was once a good hook-set is now a razor-sharp fishhook headed straight toward your face. You wince, and it strikes you right in the eye. Day…over. Eye? It’s bad. You’re now headed to the nearest clinic as fast as possible.
When thinking of ‘fishing safety’, I think its natural for the mind to gravitate toward the hazard that the fish live in…water. Focusing on not drowning, keeping PFDs (Personal Flotation Device) on yourself and your children, staying away from swift water, and not taking shortcuts is probably the first and might be the only thing people think of in regards to coming back from an outing unscathed. Secondly, and those fishing the Russian River, Kenai River, and a myriad of other places throughout Alaska know, the hazard of encountering a bear along the river bank is also a major hazard. However, a sharp fishhook, along with a weight, attached to a line that is connected to a bent rod that is storing gobs of potential energy is likely a much larger hazard than the potential of encountering a bear, or drowning (because you’re smart and you wear a PFD when you need to).
Fishing can be enjoyed by almost anyone, at almost any time, and because of this, it is one of the most widely participated in sporting activities worldwide. Children up through adults can have the potential threat of a sharp fishhook and heavy weight hurled toward their eyeballs at high speeds without discrimination. Due to this hazard, sport fishing is only second to baseball in eye-related injuries in the United States.
For us at The Alaska Life, the potential for eye-related fishhook or weight injuries is much too large of a risk when engaging in sport fishing with our families to ignore. We have a hard and fast rule that nobody fishes unless they’re wearing sunglasses. Wraparound eye protection is certainly your best bet for the first line of defense, and while some report that shattered glass from broken glasses after being struck by a fishhook or weight could also cause an eye injury, it is my opinion (though unprofessional) that any sort of glasses will absorb some of the energy of the projectile. To me, the potential risk of injury from the flying fishhook or weight itself far outweigh the potential injury from debris from your broken glasses.
Wearing glasses to avoid an ocular fishhook injury isn’t only for those fishing, but also bystanders. We have ALL seen someone hook into a salmon, have it turn downstream and run while ripping line off the reel, before having the hook dislodge from the fish. What happens? Well, the lure, hook, weight, or whatever was connected to the end of the line goes flying past the angler and lands who knows how far behind them. Its safe to say that avoiding a fishhook injury is for everyone surrounding this activity, not just the anglers themselves.
So what happens when you’ve actually lodged a fishhook into your eye? Well, according to the Acta Ophthalmologica, a peer-reviewed medical journal of ophthalmology established in 1923, ‘immobilizing the hook until appropriate treatment is available helps prevent further damage to the patient’s eyes’ is what needs to happen. What this means is that you need to leave the fishhook IN the eyeball, and cover both eyes until you can get to advanced medical care. Covering one eye doesn’t help as much as you would think because where one eye goes, the other follows. Covering both eyes means the victim won’t be looking around, moving his or her eyes potentially damaging them further.
DOUBLE BONUS! We all know the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. We also know that water is highly reflective, meaning that on a gorgeous blue-bird day when you’re not subjecting yourself to an eye injury from a fishhook, you’re also protecting your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. If your glasses are polarized, you’ll also have an easier time targeting your fish as well.
Looking for a stellar value in a set of polarized glasses? Hit up Woodies at this link! The Alaska Life crew have been using Woodies for a year now and its hard to pass up the value for $25!
TRIPLE BONUS! You’ll look cool wearing your shades while fishing. Wear your sunglasses. Thank us later.