Protect your eyes and your health

By Lt. Col. James R. AuvilMarch 1, 2016

Protect your eyes and your health
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

When the snow melts and lilies begin to peek out of the ground, people start spending more time outdoors. Eye care providers see an increase in eye injuries in the spring as people begin sharpening tools, cutting grass, working on vehicles, preparing gardens and playing outdoor sports. It is important to recognize eye hazards associated with cutting and grinding and protect yourself from high speed small particles with appropriate safety eye wear. Some eye hazards require a face shield for the best protection while others require basic safety goggles or glasses. If you are handling hazardous liquids that pose a splash hazard, you will need goggles that form a seal around your eyes with vents designed to prevent a splash from getting inside the goggles. If you are playing any sport with an eye hazard, you should use appropriate eye protection. The American National Standards Institute and the American Society for Testing and Materials establish eye protection standards for sports, work and hobby activities.

Protecting your eyes from hazardous liquids and flying debris is a straight-forward and obvious concept. Protecting your vision from diseases such as diabetes and glaucoma is not as obvious because symptoms like reduced side vision or blurry vision can develop slowly over time, which makes them difficult to recognize. This is a good time to get a thorough eye exam to catch potential diseases before they can affect your vision.

Recently, researchers discovered artificial illumination can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life, sleep and overall health. Humans react strongly to light, which has a fundamental effect on a person's circadian rhythm. Exposure to blue light from digital devices such as electronic readers, television and computer monitors and cell phones in the hour before bedtime has a profound negative effect on a person's quality of sleep. Test subjects who used these devices before bedtime took longer to fall asleep, failed to achieve restful sleep and woke up the next morning feeling more tired than when they went to bed. This cycle prompts people to use excessive caffeine to "wake up" each morning and to get through the day, which also contributes to poor quality sleep. Industry is now responding to these studies by selling glasses that block this blue light. A leading mobile device manufacturer designed an operating system feature that modifies a device's color scheme in the evening away from the blue end of the spectrum and more toward the red end of the spectrum to reduce exposure to blue light before bedtime. These are just a couple of examples of how innovations in technology attempt to reduce the adverse effects of blue light on a person's circadian rhythm. However, the best way to prevent this negative affect on sleep is to avoid using electronic displays at least an hour before bedtime.

Related Links:

Army Public Health Center (Provisional)