Threats to our vision are everywhere, from flying dust and debris in industrial settings, to overexposure to computer, mobile device, and television screens.
And while we value our eyes, the latest Eye-Q survey sponsored by the American Optometric Association (AOA) reports that a third of all Americans aren’t really sure of the best way to take care of them.
“Start with a comprehensive dilated eye exam,” said Dr. Jennifer Chambers, chief medical officer at Capital Blue Cross. “Such exams can reveal common vision problems as well as glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, and other serious conditions.
“In terms of protecting our eyes, there are many things we can and should do,” Chambers added. “Safety goggles and masks top the list.”
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), about 2,000 workers per day in the U.S. sustain eye injuries at work, and most are due to a lack of proper eye protection, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the AOA, occupations with a high risk for eye injuries include:
Maintenance / janitorial
Flying debris and chemicals are not the only threats to our vision.
Americans spend an average of nearly nine hours a day looking at device screens, according to a Nielsen survey. Cases of computer vision syndrome, which can include eyestrain, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, blurred vision, increased light sensitivity, and dry eyes are common.
According to the Mayo Clinic, eyestrain poses no long-term health risk, but can be aggravating and unpleasant, and can make it difficult to focus.
Bad lighting, screen glare, and improper viewing distance, can contribute to computer vision syndrome. These tips from eye experts at the AOA, Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other respected institutions and organizations, can help ease the discomfort:
Practice the 20-20-20 rule to help combat eyestrain: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to stare at something about 20 feet away.
Locate computer screens slightly below eye level, and 20 to 28 inches away.
Place reference materials above the keyboard and below or beside the monitor to cut down on head movement.
Position lights so they do not reflect in the computer screen.
Enlarge the type for easier reading, and adjust the contrast and brightness.
Blink. People blink less when staring at a computer screen, according to research. That can lead to dry eyes. Blinking produces tears that moisten and refresh the eyes.
Use artificial tears if your eyes feel dry.