Having experienced challenges with my own vision midway through my career, I often look back at how little I knew about my eyes up to that point in my life. I remember how appointments with my physician and dentist were considered important, and that visiting an Ophthalmologist meant there was something seriously wrong. Most of my younger siblings wore glasses, and the youngest was legally blind uncorrected.
Growing up it was common to think that if you could see well, there was no need to have an eye examination. It isn't that people didn't care about their eyes; it's more about not understanding how their eyes work.
Today, thanks to research, we know that 75 per cent of vision loss is avoidable or treatable, and that most eye injuries are preventable.
So what does that mean? It means, like any other organ in our body, our eyes require attention and care. It means we have to eat healthy, not smoke, exercise, wear sunglasses with protection from UVA and UVB rays and have regular eye examinations. For the most part, all the things we do to keep our heart in good shape will, over our lifetime, help us maintain our vision.
We also have to consider accepting personal responsibility in protecting our eyes from injury. To do that, we need to be armed with the information that will enable us to recognize hazards that can put the eyes at risk and ensure we are wearing the right type of eye protection for the task being performed, at work, at home and at play.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety there here are some key factors that will help you identify protective eyewear.
Lenses: The Canadian Standards Association (CSA)-certified safety glasses have plastic polycarbonate lenses. They are stronger than regular lenses, are impact-resistant, and come in prescription and non-prescription (plano or zero-power lens) forms.
Markings on safety glasses: The manufacturer or supplier logo is marked (or etched) on all approved safety lenses, frames (front and temple), removable side shields, and other parts of the glasses, goggles, or helmets.
Frames: Safety frames are stronger than street-wear frames and are often heat resistant. They are also designed to prevent lenses from being pushed into the eyes.
You should also know that regular prescription lenses should not be used in place of CSA approved safety glasses. Your local Doctor of Optometry can help you select a pair of CSA approved frames and insert your prescription into the lens.
CNIB offers eye safety workshops that are interactive and highly motivational for employees. If you would like more information you can reach me Debbie.Ryan@cnib.ca.
Next time around I'll be talking about keeping our safety glasses in tip top shape, and I will introduce you to the different classes of eye protection for every job you do, at work, at home and at play.
Your eyes are the windows to the world around you – protect them!