By V. Hauschild and the Tri-Service Vision Conservation and Readiness Division, Army Public Health Center
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Many people take their vision for granted, but most also recognize the increased likelihood of vision decline and vision loss as they age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify major causes of vision loss as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
Although routine eye exams and healthy habits can help reduce the risk or severity of age-related vision loss, the possibility of eye injury or trauma can occur at any age. . Eye injuries can range from scratches to more permanent vision loss.
Every year, thousands of active duty military personnel injure their eyes. Eye injuries can have short and long term effects on vision and impact the mission.
The Tri-Service Vision Conservation and Preparedness Branch, or TSVCRB, encourages service members to wear eye protection at work and at home to prevent eye injuries.
“It’s important for service members to recognize that any eye injury can negatively impact their performance and operational readiness, so it’s critical to continuously enforce eye protection and job safety,” says the Cmdr. Hong Gao, a Navy optometrist working with the Army Public Health Center TSVCRB.
In training and combat activities in the field, eye hazards range from fragmented munitions and other airborne debris to unseen hazards such as ultraviolet radiation.
According to TSVCRB experts, the most common work-related eye injuries are caused by small pieces of foreign-body metal from cutting, grinding, or blasting. These and other eye injuries can be prevented through workplace inspections and the wearing of proper safety glasses.
Military commanders and security guards are required to assess local working and training conditions to determine if and what types of eye protection are required. Local vision preservation and preparation teams, which should ideally include members of safety, industrial hygiene, occupational health and optometry, can inspect a work environment for hazards or ocular risks and give recommendations.
To ensure proper safety eyewear, service members should use military combat eye protection. The MCEP, which includes the list of military protective eyewear, actually includes a list of various safety glasses that have been approved by military ophthalmology experts for workplace and combat use. MCEP safety eyewear not only meets the national criteria specified by the American National Standards Institute, but also meets additional requirements to ensure maximum protection for military service members.
It is important to note that it is not enough to ensure that the best eye protection is used in military activities and in the workplace.
During the pandemic, many service members have worked from home or worked on more household projects where eye protection is advised (eg, mowing the lawn, trimming weeds, working under sinks and painting). Although prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses provide some level of eye protection (eg, falling debris), it is best to use specific certified safety glasses to provide the highest level of eye protection. According to the TSVCRB, the best safety glasses should carry an ANSI z87.1 label.
Certain sports, such as basketball, paintball, lacrosse, and boxing, are also high-risk activities for eye injuries in the military.
“I’ve found that most acute eye injuries are due to being poked into the eye,” Lt. Col. Terryl Aitken, one of the Army’s optometrists, told TSVCRB. “Many of them happened during basketball and could have been avoided if the individual was wearing eye protection.”
Aitken says the other very common cause of finger eye injuries is when a baby’s or child’s finger or toy hits a parent’s eye. Although they are less easily prevented with eye protection, simply being alert to these common hazards can help avoid them.
Organizations and programs such as MCEP and local Vision Conservation Teams help protect vision and ensure soldier mission readiness. But a service member should maximize Department of Defense efforts to reduce associated eye injuries by evaluating their personal activities for eye hazards and choosing appropriate eye protection. The International Safety Equipment Association provides a selection guide to help you.
General advice on eye protection is provided below:
• If it is a chemical environment, wear chemical goggles appropriate for the chemical hazard (for example, when working on your car battery)
• If impact environment, wear appropriate safety glasses or safety glasses that meet ANSI z87.1 or better (MCEP/APEL approved eye protection), eg grinding metal or work under a car.
• Be a role model for safety glasses or the use of safety glasses.
The Army Public Health Center focuses on promoting healthy people, communities, animals and workplaces through the prevention of illness, injury and disability of soldiers, military retirees, their families, veterans, civilian military employees, and animals through population monitoring, surveys, and technical consultations.
|Date posted:||03.09.2022 13:41|
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