Contacts May Provide Added UV Protection

Eye ContactScientific studies have shown that prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun can cause cataracts and macular degeneration and can lead to permanent eye damage and even blindness. Prevention by wearing quality sunglasses that block at least 99% of harmful rays from the sun along with other preventative measures can reduce the chance of these problems.

In addition, it turns out that some contact wearers may be receiving added protection against harmful sun damage to the eyes that those who wear sunglasses or prescription eyewear alone do not, namely UV protection built into their contacts.

While some contacts offer little or no UV protection, others provide adequate additional protection as a supplement and compliment to sunglasses. In fact, research indicates that UV contacts in conjunction with sunglasses that provide UV protection provide better UV protection that just sunglasses alone.

Contacts with UV protection are labeled either Class 1 or Class 2. Class 1 indicates that lenses block 96% of UVA rays and 100% of UVB rays. Class 2 lenses block 70% and 95% respectively. Many contacts offer no additional UV protection.

Research also warns against relying on UV contacts alone for protecting the eyes against sun damage. This is because UV contacts in general block at least 10% less UV light than sunglasses with the amount being blocked varying from one pair of contacts to the next.

While wraparound sunglasses provide the best option for full-eye sun protection, simply wearing any sunglasses that protect against at least 99% of UV rays provides essential protection for eyes against the sun’s harmful rays. But, wearing UV contacts in addition to sunglasses brings added whole-eye protection that glasses alone simply cannot provide.

Most sunglasses fail to prevent all UV rays from reaching the eyes because of direct and indirect sunlight that shines through the top, sides and bottoms of glasses. Contacts can provide protection to theses exposed areas.

Taking the idea of complete protection even further, adding a wide-brimmed hat that covers 1” or more in front of the eye when wearing UV sunglasses and contacts provides the ideal solution for those whose eyes are exposed to the sun on a regular and prolonged basis. Those individuals include lifeguards, ski patrol and other individuals who work and spend the majority of their time in the sun.

Just like all sunglasses are not created equal and making sure you purchase quality sunglasses is essential, so too is the case with contacts that protect against UV rays. As already mentioned, not all lenses provide the same amount of UV protection with some providing no protection at all against the sun.

Check with your eye care provider with regard to the UV rating on your contacts. If your contacts do not provide UV protection, request contacts that do.

The bottom line is that UV contacts alone do not provide as much protection as sunglasses alone, especially wraparound styles. But together, UV contacts and sunglasses provide solid protection for eyes against the sun’s harmful rays.

Who Is At Greatest Risk For Eye Injury?

Raquetball_PlayerAlmost half of the 2.5 million eye injuries reported annually occur in individuals ages 18-45. The second largest age group (25%) receiving the most eye injuries are children. Even more specifically, older teens and young adults in their late twenties present the highest numbers within these groups. Of the total number of injuries, 73% of them are received by males.

Older teens and young adults receive the majority of their eye injuries from sports. The rate of injury for this group when playing sports is highest in sports like basketball, football, soccer and leisure sports (golf, tennis, bowling, etc.). Fighting and typical horsing around account for a portion of eye injuries in this age group as well. In addition, older teens generally tend to fail to pay attention to printed warnings about potential eye injury.

In addition to eye injury from sports and horsing around, young adults also receive many of their eye injuries from yard work, flying particles in a work area and from chemicals. Eye injury for women in this group also often comes from mascara wands and scratches from fingernails. In addition, young adults receive a number of eye injuries from exploding grills and fireplaces as well as from fireworks.

Older adults do not escape eye injury by any means with nearly 27% of injuries reported annually being received by individuals 46 and older. Much of the same causes of eye injury in individuals below 46 result in eye injury for those over that age, just not as many. Perhaps this is because caution increases and activity decreases with age, at least for some individuals.

There is one factor that remains constant throughout age groups and regardless of type of injury. And that factor is that the majority of ALL of these eye injuries can be prevented. The single best way to prevent eye injury, regardless of age and activity, is by wearing protective eyewear. In fact, 90% of eye injuries are preventable by wearing protective eyewear.

Fortunately, a plethora of options exist to fit every age and activity, which means few excuses exist for not wearing protective eyewear in any and every situation. There is sports eyewear, over-prescription eyewear, safety sunglasses, shooting glasses and Rx ready eyewear. Safety eyewear even exists specifically made for women and children.

For individuals needing safety eyewear for multiple situations, there’s convertible safety eyewear and multi-lens safety eyewear too. From motorcycle eyewear to safety goggles, the options available really eliminate excuses that sometimes seem to cross age and gender lines.

Eye injury, while more prevalent in some age groups over others, really does not have an age or gender bias. For this reason, both men and women regardless of age can do the one thing that will start to reduce that 2.5 million eye injuries per year… wear protective eyewear!

Camping Safety

Camping presents a terrific opportunity for spending time with family and friends in the great outdoors. It can also provide a welcome break from the hustle, bustle and technology of life. Yet, even in this simple environment, so much can go awry when one is unprepared. And for such a simple get-away, there is a lot to prepare.

The CDC provides some great information on Camping Health and Safety Tips along with a Packing Checklist that can help prepare you for your next camping trip. Campsafe.org also provides some terrific information on camping safety, because “it’s fun until someone gets hurt. Let’s keep it fun.”

And there certainly a lot of ways a fun camping trip can be ruined, whether through injury caused by carelessness or by happenstance. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, in 2007, more than 11,000 people required medical treatment for a camping injury, and these numbers don’t include those injured while using cots, trailers, stoves, and other camping equipment.

The most common camping injuries include bug bites, cuts, scrapes, burns and broken bones. For our focus today, let’s look at common camping injuries related specifically to the eyes.

  1. Foreign Object in Eye. A speck of debris or a branch in the eye is a common cause of eye injury when camping. Usually, an eye wash with a sterilized eye-wash cup takes care of the problem, but moisturizing eye drops can do the trick as well. If the problem persists, medical attention is necessary.
  2. Sun Exposure. Since camping takes place outdoors, a lot of time is spent in the sun. Most people fail to realize that the sun damages the eye in much the same way that it damages our skin. For this reason, wear quality sunglasses that protect against at least 99% of the sun’s harmful rays when camping.
  3. Fire. One of the best parts about camping is sitting around the campfire. Unfortunately, the campfire can also be a source of eye injury, often from sparks or ashes that fly through the air and even from smoke getting in the eyes. Prevent problems by not sitting too close to the fire and by being aware of any flying objects coming out of the fire.
  4. Insect Bites & Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac. These elements seem like a natural part of camping and usually are treated fairly easily with calamine or other lotion. But what happens when they occur in or near the eye? First, keep hands away from eyes to help prevent problems. Second, if exposure does occur, wash the eye with lukewarm water. If exposure happens in the area round the eye, some lotions can be used near the eye and may be useful to stop itching and prevent spreading. For exposure directly in the eye itself, medical attention will likely be necessary if problems persist past this initial treatment.

Certainly, some minor eye injuries can be treated by items in a basic camping first-aid kit. For this reason, be sure to keep a sterilized eye wash cup along with some moisturizing eye drops in your camping first aid kit. But serious injuries, especially injury accompanied by pain, blurred vision or loss of vision, need immediate medical attention.

Keep camping fun and safe by having the necessary and proper equipment, keeping a well-stocked and up-to-date first aid kit, and being aware of the necessities needed to ensure a safe camping trip.