You don’t need anyone to tell you that your eyesight is precious. Unfortunately, because most people are born with it without any problems, it’s easy to take eye health and safety for granted. Like any part of the body, the eyes can deteriorate when they’re not cared for. Taking proactive measures will help ensure you can enjoy the quality of eyesight you have for a long time, if not for the rest of your life.
Eye injuries can happen, whether you’re outdoors, at work, or in the comforts of your own home. They are not limited to people in industrial settings, those who play sports, or young children. Your eyes can get injured and may require medical attention. While some may have mild effects, others can lead to severe pain and even blindness. That’s why it is so critical to take eye safety seriously.
Here are ways to protect your eyes from various situations:
Like the skin that requires sunscreen application and appropriate clothing, the eyes need protection against ultraviolet rays, as well. When the sun is up and harsh, wear sunglasses with UV protection. Contrary to popular belief, UV light remains even when it’s cloudy. It’s also present in the morning and afternoon, not just around noon. Even if you hide under the shade, there’s still about 50% of UV radiation around you.
Sunglasses with good UVA and UVB protection of up to 400 nm reduce the light that can penetrate the eyes. They are essential at any time of the day, especially if you’re planning to be out in the sun and enjoy a day at the beach. Pick a pair of sunglasses with adequate coverage for your entire eye area. This guarantees that the sensitive skin around the eyes gets the protection it needs.
UV protection is necessary for clear and tinted eyeglasses, too. This means you should never go out with eyeglass lenses that do not have UV protection. Glare is a common issue when wearing clear eyeglasses, which is why it is recommended to have glare and UV protection together. That way, you view things with more confidence, even under the bright sun.
Eye Safety at Home
You’re wrong if you think your eyes are protected when you’re at home. Using bleach to clean, doing yard work with lawnmowers, or beautifying your home can hurt your eyes – household activities and DIY activities are common causes of eye injuries in emergency rooms! For instance, most people don’t bother putting on protective eyewear when using cleaning products, which cause more than 120,000 household cleaning related injuries to the eye every year.
There is a risk anywhere in your home, whether in the garage, shed, backyard, kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom. But here’s the good news: 90% of eye injuries can easily be prevented when you wear protective eyewear that meets Australian Standards. Keep children away when working with bleach, nails and hammers, saws, or trimmers. If you require help from other members of the household, make sure that they also wear eye protection, especially when there is a risk of flying debris.
If you or any loved one experiences an eye injury, quickly call the nearest eye care practitioner, or seek medical attention. Signs to watch out for are:
Tired or heavy lids
Eye Safety at Work
When using a computer, smartphone, or any device for work, you’re at risk for eye strain. But don’t worry; there are some tips to manage this. For a large screen, start by positioning the screen away from your face – a bit farther from how you usually hold a book. The centre of the screen should be slightly lower than your eye level, and make sure the brightness is not too high. Screen brightness is not the only thing that induces eye strain but also nearby lighting, which results in glare and reflections.
It’s vital to keep the screen clean and dust-free. When working, remember to take breaks every 20 minutes by looking at a distant object for at least 20 seconds to rest your eyes.
Computers are not the only things that pose a risk to your eye safety. Suppose you’re a lab worker, construction worker, or welder, the likelihood of eye injuries increases. Working with chemicals, UV or excessively bright lights, or machines and tools require protective eyewear, such as goggles, face shields and helmets, and other special types of safety glasses.
Eye Safety at School
Taking care of the eyes begins at home. Parents should talk to their children about how to care for their eyes, so they know what to do when in school.
Having a clear vision is essential for the child to perform their best in school. When it comes to eye safety, it’s something that parents have to be vigilant about. Sometimes, even if you continually remind your kids about the steps in taking care of their eyes, they still forget. Many accidents can happen even if they do not participate in sports or recreational activities. Pencils, scissors, and paper clips can injure your child’s eyes.
It will greatly help kids if parents and teachers educate them on what to do in case of eye injury. Some things to remember are:
Never touch or rub the eyes, especially with dirty hands.
Small objects can often be cleared from the eyes by simply blinking.
Don’t attempt to remove larger objects lodged in the eyes. Call an eye doctor or seek medical help right away.
Back to school season, preferably before school opens, is a great time to schedule an eye exam. Children use their eyes all the time when in class, so it is necessary to check for possible changes. A routine exam can assess your child’s eye alignment and visual acuity. It’s also beneficial for diagnosing any eye-related issues and determining the best treatment or therapy.
Eye Safety for Sport
Kids and adults need protective eyewear when playing a sporting activity or practising a sport. Many sports increase the risk for eye injuries, such as:
Other sports come with moderate risk but still require eye protection, including golf, tennis, badminton, and football. Safety goggles, usually with polycarbonate lenses, will benefit those who play rough sports such as baseball and basketball. Helmets with face guards or masks are often useful for hockey players, tackle footballers, and baseball players when batting.
Some sporting activities such as diving, swimming, and gymnastics may not need protective eyewear, however, if the child involved in such sports already require corrective eyewear, then appropriate vision correction options should be discussed. Prescription swimming goggles, daily disposable contact lenses or OrthoKeratology are some sports vision correction options.
Eye Safety for Kids
Playing under the sun, especially during summertime, is a favourite activity of any child. And it is likely more beneficial to them than staying indoors, just to watch TV and play on their mobile phones. Exercise, fresh air, and vitamin D help improve not just the child’s physical health but also their eye health.
If your child is less than a year old, it’s best to stay indoors or in full shade as much as possible. That’s because a baby’s retina has very little to no UV protection. Children are more sensitive to UV rays because they have less melanin and more transparent crystalline lenses that naturally protect the eyes.
When going out, babies are required to wear a large hat or pram that keeps their eyes hidden from the sun. But once again, even with a sunshade, UV radiation can still affect the eyes, which is why it’s always a good idea to find comfortable eyeglasses that do not slip. Don’t forget to put the eyeglasses on even on cloudy days.
Many kids, though, are not too keen to wear sunglasses, but here’s a quick tip that we find effective: let your child choose the sunglasses. The more they like the pair, the more likely they will wear the sunglasses.
Wondering about eye safety, or looking for optimal vision correction options for specific activities, it is best to talk to an eye care practitioner. Contact E Eye Place for a comprehensive eye exam today.
Stephanie is an owner optometrist, researcher and educator. She has held clinical, teaching and research roles in Australia and overseas, and has extensive training and clinical experience. Stephanie is also the head optometrist at E Eye Place, on top of this, she is also currently a PhD candidate at UNSW. Dr Stephanie Yeo Optometrist BOptom (HC1) GradCertOcTher DOPT (Merit) CO Ophthalmic Medicines Prescriber.