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Blinded Pictou County teen urges Nova Scotians to wear safety glasses

Nolan Chisholm is encouraging Nova Scotia’s to wear safety glasses after an accident blinded him in one eye.
Nolan Chisholm is encouraging Nova Scotia’s to wear safety glasses after an accident blinded him in one eye. - Contributed

PICTOU COUNTY

Nolan Chisholm’s life changed in an instant on Father’s Day 2017. While mowing the grass using a ride-on lawn mower, a piece of debris flew out from underneath, ricocheted off his house and struck him in the left eye.

He immediately knew something was wrong but remained calm, shut off the mower and went inside to explain what happened to his parents.

Now 16 years old, Chisholm is completely blind in his left eye after suffering a globe rupture – when the outer membrane of the eye is penetrated by a blunt trauma. He wears a scleral shell, which is a prosthesis to cover the eye.

Many individuals think eye injuries only occur in industrial settings – involving machines or chemicals – but more than two-thirds of eye injuries take place outside of work environments. This is why Chisholm is urging Nova Scotians to wear safety glasses when working around the yard.

“If I could change anything about that day, the first thing I would do is wear safety glasses,” says Nolan. “It’s such a simple way to prevent accidents like mine, but people assume because they’re at home they can’t be harmed.” He also says he should’ve scanned the yard for rocks and other debris before mowing it – but anything else may not have prevented what happened.

Approaching the one-year anniversary of his accident, Chisholm is completing Grade 10. He hasn’t let his sight loss affect his education, and notes that his school has been accommodating in his transition. On maintaining a level of normalcy since being blinded in one eye, he says “I haven’t made a big deal of losing my sight, so my friends and family haven’t either.”

Chisholm’s love of playing sports hasn’t changed since losing his sight. He’s had to make some adjustments, like keeping his head turned while he participates in sports, as his peripheral vision has weakened. “Minor stuff,” says Chisholm.

After the accident, Chisholm was eager to return to mountain biking. At first, he noticed a difference in his depth perception, but this adjusted. He tried dirt biking, which he enjoys doing with friends in his spare time. Chisholm still enjoys mountain biking and may decide to race again someday.

He has remained optimistic since being blinded in his left eye – a trait his family considers a key attribute in the success of his rehabilitation. He’s excited to share his story and raise awareness about eye safety. When not dirt biking this summer, Chisholm can be seen mowing the grass on his ride-on lawn mower – and wearing safety glasses, of course.

How to prevent eye injuries at home:

• Trim low-hanging branches on trees around the home

• Ensure spray nozzles are directed away from the face

• Read and follow instructions when using chemicals

• Use grease shields on frying pans

• Turn face away when uncorking champagne bottles

• Teach children how to safely handle knives, scissors and pencils

• Keep harsh chemicals, spray cans and glues out of a child’s reach

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