By Wayne Combs, Community Health Nurse, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive MedicineMarch 18, 2009
Don't take your vision for granted-take care of your eyes, and your eyes will take care of you.
The average Soldier sustaining an eye injury is an E3-E5, 20- to 24-year-old male who is struck by an object while performing combat soldiering; participating in sports; or performing maintenance, repair or servicing, according to CHPPM statistics. This average eye-injured Soldier is not wearing eye protection at the time of the injury. He will lose an average of 6.1 workdays at an average cost of $9,724.
These statistics certainly show that it's better for the Soldier, the unit and the Army to prevent eye injuries from happening.
Preventing eye injuries at work
Prevention includes following eye safety signs and procedures. Know what to do if a hazardous material splashes in your eye.
Always wear approved eye protection for mechanical, chemical, biological or radiant energy (such as welding, lasers or sunlight) hazards. Make sure your eye protection is clean, in good shape and has "Z87" marked on the side. (Z87 means the goggles meet standards set by the American National Standards Institute.)
For training and operational duties, a ballistic standard is required-Military Combat Eye Protection (MCEP) 2 significantly exceeds ANSI Z87 standards and meets this requirement.
Do not wear contact lenses where there is smoke, dust or fumes, or when training or deployed. Know where the nearest eyewash station is and how to use it. Report eye hazards to your supervisor. If someone gets an eye injury, call emergency medical services immediately.
Vision protection at home
When outside, wear sunglasses that absorb the sun's harmful UV rays. Both clear and tinted MCEP lenses provide UV protection. A broad-brimmed hat also helps protect your eyes.
When working on your car or around the house, be aware of the eye hazards. Mechanical hazards such as rust or flying objects, chemical hazards such as battery acid, and radiant hazards are common in the home shop.
Remember to wear approved eye protection-safety glasses and goggles should have Z87 markings on the side. Wear appropriate, approved eye protection when playing sports. For eye-hazardous sports, wear American Society for Testing and Materials-approved eyewear that contains lenses.
To ensure eye health at work and at home, have an eye exam every two or three years, or sooner as directed. Early detection and correction of eye problems is important.