“At least twice a week we take something out of someone’s eye that could have been prevented with safety glasses,” says Alan McCormick, OD, with Via Christi Clinic Optometry in Wichita.
Everyone also should protect their eyes from bright sunlight. Exposure to UV rays can increase one’s risk of developing blinding eye diseases or growths and even early wrinkling of skin around the eyes because of squinting.
Here are some tips for picking the right eye protection
- Ignore color and price. The darkness of sunglasses’ lenses and the cost isn’t nearly as important as the ability to block ultraviolet rays. Look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays.
- Don’t get sideswiped. Choose sunglasses that wrap around so that harmful rays can’t enter from the side.
- Top off your protection. Besides sunglasses, wear a hat to help block harmful rays.
- Wear year-round. Sunglasses aren’t just for the sun or summer. Your eyes can be damaged by the sun’s rays during the winter or on hazy days.
- Plastic or polycarbonate. Plastic lenses are less likely to shatter. Polycarbonate lenses are really strong but scratch easily — they are most often used in sports eyewear.
- Different standards for different sports. Some activities — such as paintball, racquetball — require eyewear protection. Anyone who wears glasses regularly should wear protective eyewear for sports activities, McCormick recommends. The global standard organization ASTM sets different eye-safety standards — from small goggles to face protection — by individual sports.
At home and work
- Have a pair on hand. The AAO and the American Society of Ocular Trauma recommend that every household have a pair of American National Standards Institute-approved eyewear on hand for work involving flying debri — as with mowers and weed eaters — and chemicals. The ANSI rating is found on lenses or frames. They are readily available at hardware stores.
- Job standards. OHSA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) sets standards for workplace safety glasses. Make sure your employer informs you how to keep your eyes protected, when applicable.