Seeing is Believing – Tips to Support Eye Safety & Health

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

They say the eyes are the windows to the world! Unfortunately, thousands of Americans suffer an eye injury each day. Many of these injuries occur in the workplace including farms, where young children are actively present. Exposure to chemicals, sunlight, gases, vapors and even debris in the air can have a lasting impact on the health of your eyes. With March serving as eye safety & wellness month, we want to offer you some eye-opening tips to save your vision!

In addition to being painful, eye injuries cause many lost workdays for adults and missed school days for children. Eye injuries can also lead to permanent vision loss. An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from vision loss, which in certain cases can be prevented. Following these tips will help keep your eyes safe and your vision healthy all year long:

  1. Wearing Eye Protection: Consistently wearing properly fitted safety glasses or goggles while working with or around chemicals can make a huge impact on your eyes. Additionally, safety glasses are important when riding on various farm & lawn equipment. Depending on the task, safety glasses with side shields or face shields can be used for extra protection. Proper eye protection is also necessary for many leisure activities from ATV riding to playing sports. When working outside, sunglasses can aid in preventing the development of cataracts, retinal damage, and also protect your skin from cancer. Be sure your sunglasses provide 100% ultraviolet protection from both the UVA rays and UVB rays.
  2. Eye Examinations: From an early age, children should take part in yearly eye exams. Visits with an optometrist or ophthalmologist can help determine if medical issues are prevalent including cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Other conditions such as autoimmune diseases, high cholesterol, diabetes, and thyroid conditions can also be identified in routine eye exams. Uncorrected vision problems have accounted for a variety of avoidable accidents.
  3. Proper Nutrition: Nutrition is essential in eye health. Vegetables, especially leafy green ones, should be an important part of the daily diet. Diets with higher levels of vitamin C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids can aid is eye health.
  4. Avoid Eye Fatigue: In recent years, increased use of smartphones, tablets, and computers have been shown to have an impact on our vision. If you notice eyestrain from working on one of these devices, The American Optometric Association recommends following the 20- 20-20 rule. Look up from your work every 20 minutes and focus at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If you notice problems and they persist, it is important to be checked for proper prescription of eye glasses, contact lenses, as well as other medical conditions.

These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, which are held each year throughout North America. This year, more than 100,000 children & adults will participate in a Safety Day within their local community. Learn more at www.progressiveag.org

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Photo Caption: At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day held last spring in Minnesota, a participant demonstrates safe practices, including wearing safety goggles to provide eye protection, while assembling a bird house during a workshop on hand tool safety.