Eyesight is an integral part of everything you do. Without your eyesight, you can’t drive a car, pick out your own clothes, or enjoy a rich sunset. Simple, everyday tasks become almost impossible to perform. In the United States, around 75,000 people a year lose their sight. That is a heartbreaking statistic. The worst part is that many people don’t think too much about eye protection. For most people, if they don’t have already have trouble with their eyes, they don’t ever worry about them. But, by following a few practical eye protection tips, you can keep your eyes healthy. You can avoid becoming one of those 75,000 people left in the dark.
Use Eye Protection
If you work in an environment where you could sustain an injury to your eyes, use eye protection. It’s so easy and could make a big difference. Your employer may recommend or even mandate that you use proper eye protection. Don’t ignore these warnings. Almost 2,000 people per day suffer an eye injury at work. A solid 40% of these injuries occur in construction, mining, and manufacturing. Most of these injuries can be avoided by using the correct eye protection.
But even if you don’t work in one of these fields, don’t assume you’re safe. Always follow the recommendations for wearing eye protection. It’s simple, easy and could help you avoid a life-changing injury.
Eat For Eye Health
What you eat has a huge impact on the health of your eyes. There are several nutrients that researchers have found are vital for your eyes. Deficiencies in these nutrients pose a serious problem for your eyes. You are at a much higher risk of developing eye diseases. Some may be minor, but others are more serious like glaucoma or macular degeneration. What are these nutrients? Chances are, you already know that Vitamin A is good for your eyes. If you’re conscious about eye health you’ve already been chowing down on lots of carrots.
But there are several other nutrients that appear to be even more important. These include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
How on earth do you make sure that you are getting plenty of these nutrients? It turns out Popeye was onto something. Be sure to eat a variety of leafy greens (not just spinach) and you’ll get plenty.
You have probably already heard about the ill effects that smoking has on your lungs and heart. But did you know how terrible it is for your eyes as well? Cigarette smoke carries cyanide and this poison can get into your bloodstream. Once there it can actually destroy healthy eye cells. Because of this, smokers are more likely to suffer from dry eye symptoms. The risk of cataracts and macular degeneration goes up as well. While cataracts are often treatable, there is no cure for macular degeneration. It’s better to avoid it from the beginning.
Are you wondering if you may already have cataracts? Take this cataract self-test to find out.
Use Proper Methods to Care for Contact Lenses
If you wear contact lenses, follow the recommendations for how to care for them. It isn’t difficult to follow a proper care routine. But many folks do not and can pay a hefty consequence. For example, you should never sleep with contacts that are not overnight contacts. You should also never use spit, water, or expired solution to wet your contacts. It is also not a good idea to wear disposable contacts longer than their recommended period. Yet, contact wearers routinely commit these errors. Most often it is out of convenience. But are corneal ulcers, pain, infection, or even vision loss worth it for a little convenience? Put eye protection first, your eyes will thank you.
Another very easy way to take good care of your eyes is to wear sunglasses. The right eye protection from the damaging effects of the sun’s rays is critical. Exposure to UV radiation can cause several problems in the eye. Did you know that the sun can burn your corneas like it can burn your skin? This can happen from exposure to intense UV radiation even with proper eye protection. For example, a day at the beach or in a snowy place where the sun is strong. The reflections intensify the UV rays by several times, adding to the damaging effect. Long-term UV radiation exposure also contributes to the development of cataracts. It can also have a hand in causing pterygium. This is a non-cancerous growth that can grow big enough to block your vision. Finally, UV radiation can cause several types of skin cancer around the eyes. The most common type is basal cell carcinoma. This cancer can cause lesions all over and around the eyelids.
Go to the Eye Doctor
It is good practice to see an eye doctor once a year for a comprehensive exam. This is most important if you already have eye problems and wear glasses or contacts. But, even if you don’t have existing problems, this is a fabulous way to detect problems early on. With early detection, your eye doctor has more treatment options. In some cases, they may even be able to prevent a problem from occurring altogether. If you work at a computer, this is even more important. Computers are not the most eye-friendly devices. Using one for long periods of time can cause significant problems over time.
The most common problem associated with computer use is dry eye. Take this handy dry eye self-test to see if you could be suffering from this problem.
Have Proper Lighting
Eye protection in an office is as important as eye protection on a construction site. It looks a little different but is vital to the health of your eyes. Many people these days work in offices so let’s talk about computer eye protection. Ambient lighting that is too bright contributes to eye strain. The lighting in most offices is about twice as bright as it should be for computer use. Look for ways to cut down on the ambient light when you use a computer. If it’s coming from outside, you may be able to close the blinds or drapes. If it’s all interior light, try reducing the number of bulbs or lowering the intensity. Also, orient your computer so light sources are on the sides and not in front or behind you. Overhead fluorescent lighting tends to cause troubles for most people. Try to use lamps with incandescent or halogen lighting instead. “Full spectrum” fluorescent lighting can work too as long as it’s not too bright.
Cut Out Glare
Glare comes from a variety of sources, not only from the computer screen. There can also be glare off of bright white walls or other finished surfaces. If you can, choose a muted color for your walls and use a matte finish. You can also add an anti-glare screen and computer hood to your monitor as necessary. If you use glasses, ask for an anti-reflective coating on the lenses.
Update Your Monitor
It’s unlikely that you still have one of these, but the old CRT monitors are harder on your eyes. New LCD monitors have anti-reflective surfaces and don’t “flicker” like CRTs. If you have to use a CRT, set the refresh rate as high as possible to cut down on the “flicker”.
Adjust Your Computer Screen Settings
The settings you use on your computer screen can have a big impact on eye strain. Optimize your display according to these instructions to give your eyes a break. Set your brightness so that it’s about the same as your ambient light. If a white page looks super bright, tone it down. If it looks dirty or gray you may want to bump the brightness up a touch. Choose a text size that is comfortable for reading. This is most important when you spend long hours reading text on your screen. Make sure there is good contrast (such as black text on a white background) for optimum comfort. Your computer screen has a color temperature that ranges from blue to yellow/orange. The blue light tends to cause more eyestrain so move it towards the yellow/orange end.
Adjust Your Workstation
For comfortable viewing, your monitor should be about 25 inches away from your face. Position it a few inches below the level of your eyes. It is better to look down a little, rather than straight in front of you or up. This keeps you from holding your eyes wide open all day, which can cause dry eye. Using an ergonomic chair and correct posture will also help with this. Make sure to adjust your chair to the proper height, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Sometimes, you need to look back and forth between the computer and printed copy. Set up the printed copy on a stand next to your monitor for comfortable viewing. A little light shining on the paper would be ideal. But make sure it doesn’t shine into your eyes or cause glare on your monitor.
Be sure to blink. This may seem a little basic, but when working on a computer people tend to forget to blink. The average person blinks about 60% less often when using a computer. Blinking is your eye’s natural way of cleaning and hydrating itself. Not blinking enough is a precursor to dry eye problems. It is even more of a concern when coupled with the dry air that is often found in office environments. If you wear contact lenses, this problem becomes even worse.
Do Eye Exercises
Exercise helps you relax and makes your body feel good. It can do the same thing for your eyes. There are several that you can do while seated at your desk. Throughout the day, follow the 20-20-20 rule. That is, every 20 minutes focus on an object that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Focusing up close constantly tends to tense up the focusing muscles in your eyes. This exercise lets your eyes relax. Another great one is to look back and forth between a far away object and an up close one. Gaze at each object for about 10 seconds and repeat the cycle 10 times. This helps to keep your focusing muscles from seizing up only looking at something close.
Many office workers only take two 15-minute breaks throughout their workday. That means they’re looking at a computer screen all day with little rest. That’s tiring for the brain, the body, and the eyes. Take a 5-minute break here and there throughout the day. Researchers found that four 5-minute breaks significantly reduced eye strain. Even though workers were on break 20 extra minutes, their productivity didn’t suffer. Turns out they can focus better and be more efficient with frequent small breaks.
Wear Computer Eyewear
If you wear glasses, it may be a good idea to ask your doctor for specific computer glasses. Having a specific prescription for use in front of a computer can reduce eye strain by quite a bit. This is a little known, but helpful piece of eye protection. This is even more helpful if you use bifocals, progressive lenses, or contact lenses. The distance to your computer screen is a bad distance for bifocals or progressives. It’s a little far for the up close part of the lens and too near for the distance part. Contact lens wearers also tend to suffer from dry eye much more often. This type of eyewear dries out the eye more than glasses or nothing at all.
Take Care of Your Eyes
Take good care of your eyes and your eyes will take good care of you. Sight is a precious gift. Many don’t realize how precious it is until it’s too late. Don’t be one of those people. Take eye protection seriously and do what you can to keep your eyes healthy. Of course, you can’t always prevent every eye disease or accident. But what you do can go a long ways towards keeping your eyes safe and healthy.
For more information, feel free to reach out to us. We’ll be glad to help in any way that we can.