Summer is a great time to enjoy the beautiful weather… and for some of us, enjoy the extra time we get off work for summer holidays. Sometimes though, how we choose to spend our free time, doesn’t come without risk. In the summer months, we tend to be more active with things such as yard work, sporting activities, and other leisure activities, like camping and hiking. However, while doing some of these different activities, we are sometimes unknowingly putting ourselves in harms ways. It is obvious one should be careful with this knife for slicing, for example. Such things are countless, and because of this we can be at a greater risk for suffering an accident that can result in bodily harm. That is why, while enjoying the summer we have to be smart, and proactively protect ourselves from danger. Our eyes are no different, here are some tips about eye protection that you can try and put into practice, to help keep your eyes and vision safe.
Most optometrists would probably agree, that they see an increase in preventable eye injuries in the spring and summer months. The American Academy of Ophthalmology, estimates that about 2.4 million eye injuries occur in the United States every year.
Eye Protection Glasses & Sports Glasses
Safety Glasses And Impact Resistant Sunglasses
While performing certain activities it is good to be proactive and wear eye protection, such as safety glasses, or impact resistant sunglasses (Oakley). Wearing eye protection while engaging in activities where a hazard may exist, helps to keep the delicate tissues of the eyes safe. Simple activities which may seem innocent, such as mowing the lawn, weed whacking, or leaf blowing, can put you at a greater risk for sustaining an eye injury. Wearing a pair of safety glasses helps to reduce the risk of having a projectile related eye injury. An object, which is projected through the air and into the eye, can cause corneal abrasions and scratches, and in severe cases, serious damage to the structure of the eye. Serious eye accidents can cause damage, which can result in partial or even total vision loss. Another way to help avoid this type of injury is to pick up small objects, such as twigs, rocks, and other types of debris that has the potential of becoming a projectile.
According to Eye Care Specialties, 40% of home eye injuries take place while working in the yard
Sport Specific Sunglasses
Millions of Canadians, of all ages, participate in sports or other forms of physical activity. Often, eye protection is the last thing that a player thinks about while on their way to play their favourite sport. Many eye injuries related to sports, can be prevented by wearing the right type of protective eye wear. Sport specific eye protection can include sport specific glasses (like racket ball glasses), to visors attached to helmets. Sport specific eyeglasses and visors perform differently then a regular pair of glasses. This is because the lenses or protective shield is usually made from a special lens material, such as polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is safer then other types of lens materials because it is more resistant to impact. Frames in sports specific eye wear are also usually designed a little differently to withstand an impact as well. It is important to protect the eyes, because unlike a broken bone or sprain, the eyes may not recover from an eye injury as easily. In sever causes, the eyes may even not recover at all. Our very own Dr. Nielson, has his own sports related eye injury story… Read about his experience in his blog post, here!
A good pair of safety or sports glasses will be marked with a CSA logo (Canadian Standards Association)
Be Cautious When Handling Chemicals
Chemical Exposure to the eyes, can be another very harmful type of eye injury. A chemical burn or chemical exposure, can often be prevented by being cautious and smart as to how chemicals are used and handled. Some common chemicals which are used in the summer, are often not thought of as chemicals. Things like sunscreens and bug sprays are generally safe to use on our skin, but often contain chemical components which can irritate or even cause harm to the delicate tissues of the eyes. When using sprays and lotions such as these, it is a good idea to put them on the hands and then rub them onto the face, all while being cautious to avoid the eye area. Applying lotions and sprays this way is a much better alternative to spraying them directly onto the face. With other chemicals such as lawn fertilizers and chemicals for hot tubs and pools, wearing eye protection such as safety glasses or sunglasses is important, as it can minimize the risk of having dangerous fluids from being splashed into the eyes. Also while handling chemicals it is important to use gloves and avoid touching or rubbing your eyes, or the area around the eyes with your hands. If your eyes ever do happen to come into contact with a chemical, read the instructions on the chemical’s packaging as to how to properly flush the eyes, then seek quick attention from your optometrist, medical doctor, or health care first responder.
Sunglasses are often viewed as more of a fashion accessory, rather then a form of eye protection. However, the protection that a good pair of sunglasses offers from the harmful UV rays of the sun, is invaluable. Harm caused to the eyes from UV exposure can be very damaging. Damage from sun exposure is often cumulative, and sometimes doesn’t present a problem until many years after continuous sun exposure. Because of this, problems caused by UV tend to show up in our golden years of life. Some common eye conditions and diseases such as, cataracts, macular degeneration, growths on the eye (pinguecula & pterygium), and some forms of eye cancers, can be linked to UV. Although all of these conditions may not be solely caused by UV exposure, UV exposure may cause them to progress at a faster rate then normal. Because UV can effect any one of any age, it is important for everybody to wear sunglasses or sun protection (large hats, etc) while outside – even young infants.
Keep your eyes and vision in the best possible shape this summer, by putting our eye protection tips into practice! And in the event that you should have the misfortune of sustaining an eye injury, contact our office to have one of our knowledgable optometrists take care of you!
Most people don’t know that Alberta Health Care covers visits to your optometrist in the event of a medical necessary appointment such as an eye injury.
Article Written By: Trina Vanaalst