Vision is critical to your perception of the world; if your eyesight begins to fail, simple tasks become difficult or even dangerous. Eye protection, therefore, is an essential part of overall vision health. Here are some of the best ways to keep your eyes safe—no matter what you’re doing.
Play It Safe
Sports pose a real risk to your eyes; whether you’re on the field, tearing down the slopes, or taking a deep dive, your eyes need protection. For team sports like hockey or football, your best bet is a helmet with a visor made of impact-resistant plastic. In fact, the National Hockey League recently announced that all players with less than 25 games played in the league must wear a visor on their helmet for protection. Some hazards for eyes on the ice include a puck to the face, or in the case of a player pile-up, skates. In 2012, Edmonton Oilers player Taylor Hall was cut by the skate of a fellow player during warm-up when both were practicing with no helmets; the injury required 30 stitches and came within an inch of his eye.
If you’re skiing or swimming, consider goggles. Ski goggles are often made of nylon or rubber, which won’t become brittle in the cold and shatter if you fall or hit a tree. These goggles are usually oversized to provide excellent peripheral vision and often tinted yellow, orange or pink to help improve contrast so you can see hazards on the slope. Swim goggles, meanwhile, are made of a polycarbonate material that is shatter-resistant and have a seal around the edge to keep water out. Both skiing and swimming pose the risk of injury to the eyes due to collision with objects—on the slopes, these may be trees or rocks, while underwater they could be walls or other swimmers.
Anyone who works in the construction industry—or does fix-it jobs around the house—should wear eye protection. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lays out guidelines for workers, and specifies that eye and face protection must be provided “when machines or operations present potential eye or face injury from physical, chemical, or radiation agents.” Safety glasses worn on construction sites and available in most retail hardware stores are typically made of impact-tested polycarbonate, meaning they can withstand impacts from projectiles such as nails or other flying debris. Common household construction hazards include nails and staples along with wood shavings or drywall dust in the eye. Loss of an eye or a scratch on the cornea is possible from any of these hazards.
In addition to practicing eye safety during sports and leisure, it’s important to protect your eyes day-to-day, even if you’re not involved in high-impact activity or construction. Any time you’re out in direct sunlight, for example, you should wear sunglasses to prevent ultraviolet light from damaging your eyes. When driving a vehicle, sunglasses and in-car visors are critical defences against sun glare or glare from other vehicles—even a moment of blindness could cause a serious accident. Even if you’re just relaxing on the beach, sand in your eye could cause minor irritation, a major infection, or permanent damage.
It’s often tempting for those who wear eyeglasses or contacts to assume their eyes are protected—they are not. Regular eyeglasses don’t provide impact protection at work or shatter protection on the football field, and contacts do nothing to increase the safety of your eyes. To both improve visual acuity and remove the need to carry around a second set of protective lenses, many individuals—from police officers to construction workers to professional athletes—are turning to laser vision correction. Using the latest technology, your eyes are painlessly corrected to provide optimal vision and eliminate the need for glasses or contacts. Instead of carrying around cases and worrying about lost lenses, you can focus on keeping your eyes protected.
The right eye protection limits your chance of injury; the right eye correction improves your long-term sight.