We talk about the main causes of accidents and eye damage, such as sun exposure, accidents at home or at work, among others. Each of the salient points is covered, specifying how to prevent these problems and what to do if they occur.

One of the most outstanding points is the reference to problems working long hours with computers. A practical guide is given on how to work with them.

We will not tire of insisting on the importance of preventing eye problems as the best way to fight against eye diseases and, prevention begins with periodic reviews.

The second aspect of good prevention is not only going to competent professionals and at the right time, but also developing our own competence regarding the knowledge of what suits us and what harms our vision. In other words, being aware of the good use of our eyes and protecting them against our relationship with elements that can harm them, such as the sun, computer screens, special work situations, sports, etc.

The American National Society for the Prevention of Blindness notes that 90% of eye injuries could have been prevented.. Let's see, then, the most frequent situations in which it is necessary to take preventive measures.

protect your eyes

Protect your eyes at work

Be extremely careful in the exercise of activities in which you are in contact with chemicals, irritating materials such as grease, dust, dyes, etc. Take all kinds of precautions or wear eye protection to perform work in which there is a risk that small fragments of metal, plastic, etc. will be thrown out. This type of activity constitutes a serious risk for our eyes because, at a given moment, an uncontrolled event may occur that causes an injury in them.

It is recommended, therefore, in these cases, to use safety glasses protection, basically glasses or masks specifically designed for this purpose. They must have the peculiarity of being closed or adapting to the facial anatomy as much as possible, to a greater degree than a normal frame, the kind we use in glasses to correct a refractive error, such as myopia. They must be resistant and light in weight to improve comfort and vision through them.

Currently, the legislation of most countries requires the use of protective glasses in activities such as those described above. Perhaps the best known is the protection of filters against ultraviolet radiation of welders with electric arc.

Protect your eyes at home

The risks of domestic accidents are increasing. In fact, many of the emergencies in an Ophthalmology department are due to incidents of this type. Daily activities or custom lead us not to pay the necessary attention to what we do, believing that we have everything under control. Nothing is further from reality, because the lack of attention is responsible for this type of accidents that cause unfortunate events, such as splashes of hot oil, burns, splashes of detergents and bleach or garden chemicals, allergies when touching the eyes with hands impregnated with products that may be toxic, and much more. Perhaps one of the most important sections is that of injuries that appear as a result of activities such as car repair or DIY.

Ocular trauma due to the action of chemical products, erosion by hammers, nails, etc. they are very frequent. The first measure against these accidents is the protection of the eyes. It is difficult to mentalize that it is necessary to use specific glasses to perform tasks such as hanging a picture; but once we have suffered an accident of this type, we see more clearly the need to protect the eyes. Unfortunately, we usually adopt these measures after having suffered the trauma, when the ideal was to have avoided it. We must insist on these measures, since, as we have said, the 90% of domestic accidents can be prevented.

There are a series of recommendations to take into account in case of accident:

Eye contusion

  • Cover the eye with some dressing or gauze, with a plaster, without pressing, just to cover the damaged eye until you reach an emergency center.
  • Do not apply drops, ointments or other drugs, it is even preferable not to irrigate the eye with any type of solution, serums or tap water.
  • Avoid touching the eye and not rubbing, as damaged tissues could be further damaged.
  • Avoid drugs anti-inflammatories or analgesics such as aspirin or ibuprofen, etc., as they can increase bleeding.

Chemical trauma

The most important thing is to eliminate the chemical product, for which, the first thing is irrigate the contact area, even placing the head under a tap of water so that the eye is profusely irrigated, tilting the head towards the side of the damaged eye, so that the water that drags the chemical product does not reach the healthy eye. With this measure, we dilute the chemical. A time between 3 and 5 minutes is recommended. The next step is cover the eye with a dressing or gauze and go to an emergency center with the bottle or the name of the chemical that reached the eye.

Foreign body trauma

The first fundamental measure is: do not try to remove yourself the possible foreign body avoiding rubbing the Eyelids so that we do not cause abrasions in the cornea-conjunctiva or that the foreign body can dig deeper.

We must cover the eye with a gauze or dressing and go to an emergency center.

If we see the foreign body floating in the white part of the eye, we can try to remove it using gauze or a cotton swab, one of those used to clean the ears.

Protect your eyes in fun activities and sports

The practice of recreational or sports activities can be the source of eye trauma, especially if balls are used in sports that can hit the face. Another cause of eye injury is from physical contact, such as a blow or nudge in the face, over the eye, something common in tough sports like football or basketball. In all these situations, it is necessary to try to prevent trauma through the use of protective glasses, the most suitable are polycarbonate, which are very resistant. You have to be especially careful in sports like squash, in which the ball travels at high speed and its size is small and adapts to the orbit of the eye, which can cause serious problems that can even cause the eyeball to burst, as has been reported in specialized publications.

We are aware that using these protection measures in sport involves difficulties. But we must insist on it, given that the accident rate has increased alarmingly in recent years, perhaps because there are more people who play sports, or because the level and intensity of the game is getting higher and, above all, because the awareness of harming oneself is less and less.

Protect your eyes from the sun

Sunlight is beneficial as long as time and degree of exposure are controlled. Ultraviolet radiation that is part of the spectrum of sunlight can be very negative for the skin and the eyes.. The same goes for all artificial light sources that emit high amounts of ultraviolet radiation, such as artificial sun lamps or arc welders. In all these cases, there is an injury to the cells that make up the fine epithelia of the conjunctiva and the cornea, being able to reach serious injuries with complete destruction of the corneal epithelium and even with the involvement of internal structures such as the retina, causing macular edema that can trigger blurred vision or produce lesions that are difficult to treat and resolve.

The best way to avoid eye injuries from overexposure to sunlight is use glasses with special filters for ultraviolet radiation. In most glasses with this type of filter, the degree or percentage of filtering is specified. It is necessary to ensure that the filtering is 90 to 100% of ultraviolet A and B radiation.

In special conditions of strong sunlight, such as in the snow, high mountains or on the beaches, it is necessary to ensure not only that the glasses are provided with good filters, but also that these glasses fit well to our facial anatomy, through of good side protections that prevent the passage of light, so that it does not reach the eyes, which would cause injuries.

It is important not to forget about the skin of the eyelids. It must be protected just as we care for the rest of the skin, with the exception that this area is more sensitive and special care must be taken. It is advisable to use creams with high sun filters, taking care that they do not come into contact with the eyeball, but repeating the application with some frequency if the exposure time is long.

Recommendations for solar exposure:

  • Use caps or shields with visor, since 50% of the solar radiation that reaches the eyes passes through the space between the face and the glasses, since the insolation is vertical and the sun is overhead.
  • Do not look at the sun directly, although we use sunglasses with sunscreens, since we can injure the taint irreversibly
  • Use sunscreen creams on the face and skin of the eyelids.
  • In artificial sun rooms use eye protection goggles accredited by official bodies such as the EC.
  • Some drugs they increase the sensitivity of the eyes to light, such as tetracyclines, doxycyclines, allopurinol, chlorpromazine and others. If you are taking any type of medication, it is necessary to read the prospectus carefully to make sure that there are no side effects or consult your doctor or pharmacist. If so, it will be necessary to extreme protection measures.
  • If you suffer from any eye disease related to ultraviolet radiation, such as maculopathies, Cataracts o pterygium, it is necessary to take precautions. We recommend consult with your ophthalmologist to establish the necessary measures to protect your eyes.
  • Sunglasses with filters should be used in general when we go outside or in environments with a high degree of insolation.. They should not be reserved only for the time we are at the beach, pool or in the snow. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is constant, even on cloudy days. Therefore, we recommend its use on a routine basis.

Ocular fatigue

There is a popular belief that doing activities that involve using near vision for prolonged periods of time can cause irreversible damage to our eyes. It is common to hear phrases like "my eyes have been burned from reading or sewing throughout my life". These types of statements are not entirely true. Currently, we know that activities of this type, even under conditions of low illumination or apparent effort, such as when we approach the reading or the tissue that we sew, in excess, are not cause of great evils, although of an excessive fatigue that can induce to reduce the yield and that a symptomatology appears that is known as "ocular astenopia”(Eye fatigue), which manifests with headachesheaviness of eyelids, blurred vision, hypersensitivity to light, irritation y excessive tearing. This symptomatology, although not serious, tampoco is recommended and it is preferable to avoid it.

Recommendations to prevent eye fatigue

  • Activities that require fixing the close-up view must be done with good lighting, avoiding unwanted shadows and reflections. To avoid this, it is necessary that the light source is of the antireflective type (halogen lights), that focuses what we are looking at, that the light comes from behind and that its disposition avoids the shadows. For example, if we are writing and we are right-handed, the light should be placed on the left so that the hand does not overshadow the paper and we can see clearly what we are writing.
  • People who suffer from some type of eye problem with vision loss should consult the possibility of using high voltage bulbs, 150 or 200 W, making sure to avoid reflections that usually accompany an increase in light intensity.
  • When working with computers, avoid light sources in front of or behind us. It is preferable that the light comes from the side, taking care that the ambient lighting is not excessive and always lower than what we have on the screen.
  • In front of the TV we must avoid completely closing off the light in the room, as well as avoiding excessive brightness and contrast of the screen. A recommended soft ambient lighting and a distance that is comfortable for distinguishing details. It is not true that we should always be 5 meters away from the television.
  • The distance measurement depends on the size of the television as well as the level of vision of each one. Current screens do not emit harmful radiation for the eyes. Therefore, it is not necessary to keep a minimum distance.

Protect your eyes against the computer

Nowadays, there is a frequent need to work with computers and spend a significant number of hours in front of a screen. The special characteristics of this type of instrument determine a greater fatigue of the eyes. In the previous section we have pointed out the importance of ambient lighting and screen contrast.

Those who must spend a long time with the computer should be aware that this activity is an extra effort; because computer screens, despite the improvements experienced in recent years, do not have a high definition and there is a constant vibration that is imperceptible, but that forces our visual system to make an effort to compensate it. Together with these factors, when we work with computers, we often change the focus or focus that goes from the screen to the keyboard or to some text or external reference, forcing our accommodative system to make another extra effort. Finally, we usually work sitting, often adopting anatomical positions that force muscle groups, which also causes problems in the back, neck or neck. To avoid all this accumulation of problems, it is necessary to analyze our activity and review both the conditions of the computer and the work posture (Ergonomics).

Recommendations for working with computers

  • Each 20 minutes, relax the look shifting the focus to distant objects for 10 to 20 seconds, followed by occlusion of the eyes for another 10 seconds.
  • Every 2 hours, get up and move, change position and perform another different and relaxing activity.
  • It is necessary to mentalize about the need to blink more frequently, since it is normal that when we look at something, such as the computer screen, the frequency of blinking is reduced, inducing a picture of dry eyes. It is advisable to use artificial tears, especially if we work in closed buildings with heating or air conditioning.
  • Act quickly. look for a comfortable posture so that muscle contractures do not occur. The back should be straight, with the head in line with it to avoid overloading the neck muscles, with the screen positioned lower, so that an angle of 30 degrees is formed between the position of the eyes and the screen. Thus, the eyes do not look straight ahead, but adopt a downward gaze that is much more comfortable and less tiring.
  • Make sure the screen is at a distance where we can see the details clearly. It is recommended that we place it at 40 cm and that we adjust the font size at the most optimal level for each one.
  • Try to have the keyboard in front of the screen and if we work with additional text, try to make it as aligned as possible with the screen and the keyboard, as well as at the same distance, to avoid the lateral movements of the eyes and the changes of accommodation, origin of additional fatigue.
  • It is imperative for people who wear glasses or contact lenses to ensure that its graduation is appropriate for the working distance. Many of the problems related to working with computers have this cause.

Diets and nutrition for the eyes

The beneficial effects of certain eye food, such as carrots, fruits etc.

We live in a society in which diet and nutrition play an increasingly important role in our lifestyle. There are objective data that confirm this opinion.

The report AREDS (Age Related Eye Disease Study) of 2001, points out the impact of adding supplements in the diet for patients at risk of developing processes such as degenerative maculopathies. The results showed that the risk was reduced by 25%, with a decrease in the evolution of vision loss in these patients, which reached 19% of those suffering from the disease. The diet should be rich in vit A, vit C, vit E, zinc and copper.

The data referred to does not translate into stating that all eye diseases benefit from this type of supplements. In general, it seems that diets rich in antioxidants (vitamins, minerals and certain enzymes) can help maintain the cells of our body in a better state of health and, in the same way, the eye system. We know that certain pathologies such as Cataracts, glaucoma o macular degenerations, are related to the action of free radicals that cause tissue oxidation. For this reason, a diet rich in antioxidant substances can be positive for preventing this type of disease, although there are no fully satisfactory data to support this presumption, only in the case of maculopathies have they been shown to be objectively beneficial.

In patients affected by high myopia with night vision problems, it was possible to demonstrate that a diet rich in carotenoids (carrots) and anthocyanosides or antioxidants improved night vision conditions and adaptation to darkness. Currently, multiple studies are being carried out to identify the risk groups in which the diet may be beneficial in the prevention and evolution of eye diseases. Although results are still lacking, everything seems to point towards the positive aspect that the continued intake of fruits, vegetables and mineral substances with antioxidant capacity has on eye health.

What foods provide antioxidant substances?

  • Vitamin E: We can find it in vegetable oils and derivatives, as well as in nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, etc.
  • Vitamin C: : We find it in most fruits, strawberries, oranges, kiwis, and in vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, tomatoes and potatoes.
  • Carotenoids.: Carrots, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, papaya, melon, watermelon and peaches are sources of this principle, basically beta-carotene, so necessary for visual function.
  • Anthocyanosides: We find them in blackberries and raspberries. They are active ingredients that seem to have a very positive effect on retinal metabolism and ocular microcirculation.
  • Tannins: They are found in red wine and it seems that they would also have a beneficial effect on eye health, as well as for the prevention of systemic circulatory disorders. A daily glass of wine is recommended.

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    How to protect the eyes
    Article name
    How to protect the eyes
    Tricks on how to protect the eyes from the challenges of everyday life, specifying how to prevent these problems and what to do if they appear.
    Name of the editor
    Área Oftalmológica Avanzada
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