A guide to protecting your vision—whether at home, work, or while playing sports.
One of the most important ways to keep your eyes healthy is to protect your vision—whether you’re at home, at work, or engaging in physical activity. Even in the most mundane of circumstances, ensuring your eyes are protected should be a top priority.
To mark Eye Safety Month, we’ve created a complete guide for eye protection, so no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you’ll know how to shield your vision from potential harm.
When spending time at home, there are several things you can do to bolster your eye health, and mitigate vision-related challenges. For starters, make sure your glasses and/or contact lens prescription is up to date. That means booking an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam, and consulting with a doctor about any existent eye concerns you might have. Remember, the sooner you address your concerns with a professional, the more likely you are to be able to mitigate long-term issues.
Secondly, limit screen time. Especially before bedtime, it’s important to minimize the amount of screen exposure you have in your home, as excessive screen use can spur eye strain, blurred vision, dry eyes and headaches, among other unwelcome symptoms.
Eating well is another key way to protect your eyes at home. Maintaining a balanced diet is essential for overall well-being, but it also offers a number of powerful benefits for ocular health. Fill your diet with nutrient-rich food, including those that contain omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc and vitamins C and E—all of which have demonstrated to improve eye health while decreasing the risk of eye-related ailments, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Try incorporating more dark, leafy greens into your meals, as well as salmon (or other fatty fish), red peppers, nuts and seeds, sweet potatoes, eggs and lean protein sources.
Just as eating well offers important eye benefits, so, too does exercise. Keeping in shape lessens your risk for developing diabetes, which can impact your eyes. Regular cardio activity, in particular, can decrease your risk of experiencing cardiovascular-related eye ailments, such as hyperintense retinopathy and glaucoma.
Maintaining good eye hygiene is also an important protective tool. Avoid excessive eye-rubbing, and always wash your hands before touching your eyes (which you should only do if you are removing or inserting. contact lenses). It’s also essential to remove eye makeup before bed, and replace your products every three months.
There are other important lifestyle changes you can make to protect your eye health, including quitting smoking (since smokers have a higher likelihood of developing cataracts and macular degeneration), and making time daily to get fresh air (which can help reduce your screen take and relax your eye muscles).
Of course, necessary eye protection at work will differ drastically depending on your job. That being said, there are some general rules to keep in mind.
If your job requires you to spend time outdoors, it’s important to wear sunglasses—regardless of the season. Too much sun exposure can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration and even sunburned eyes, which is called “photokeratitis.” Pick a pair that blocks out at least 99% of UVA and UVB rays, and consider purchasing polarized lenses to stave off glare.
In addition to wearing sunglasses when outdoors, protective gear is sometimes necessary, too. For instance, if you spend your days cutting wood, safety goggles or glasses are essential. Polycarbonate or trivex lenses will help shield your eyes from dangerous debris and airborne particles. On the other hand, if you spend much of your workday staring at a screen, make sure to take breaks for fresh air, and also follow the 20-20-20 rule.
This eyecare exercise stipulates that every 20 minutes, you should focus on an object approximately 20 feet away, for a span of at least 20 seconds. This will give your eyes a break, helping you to avoid eyestrain, dry eyes and blurry vision.
When engaging in physical activity—particularly contact sports—you should always do your best to avoid eye injuries. The good news is, 90% of serious sports-related injuries are easily preventable.
To protect your eyes when playing sports, always use professional sports equipment, including helmets and face shields, depending on the sport you’re playing.
Safety eyewear, including polycarbonate and trivex lenses and shields, are far more powerful for impact resistance than regular eyewear. Polycarbonate is a powerful plastic, as it can withstand the force of a .22-caliber bullet.
In addition to wearing protective gear, you should always be aware of your surroundings when engaging in sports. If you (or anyone you are playing with) shows signs of an eye injury, take it seriously, and seek medical attention as quickly as possible.