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Practicing good eye care, safety 'out of sight'

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AETCNS) -- The comic book hero Daredevil gained superhuman powers when he was blinded by toxic waste that hit him in the eyes. Unfortunately, outside of the superhero realm, anyone else would just be blinded.

Therefore, protecting your eyes and keeping them healthy is paramount, as sight is one of the most important senses of the body, said Maj. Ryan Traver, 325th Aeromedical-Dental Squadron optometry flight commander. And while most people follow the rules and wear personal protective equipment such as safety glasses while at work, they tend to forget about it at home.

"One of the biggest injuries we get here is from people mowing the lawn without eye protection," Major Traver said. "We also get a lot of injuries from people working on their cars at home."

Lawn mowers can toss up rocks or chips of wood, while getting under the car for a routine oil change without goggles can cause bits of rust, or even oil, to fall into the eyes.

Using hazardous chemicals, small hand tools or riding a motorcycle are other activities in which people should wear protective eye equipment, said Ken Jolley, 325th Fighter Wing ground safety chief.

Common eye injuries also come from not wearing protective eye gear while playing sports, Major Traver said.

"Many people wear safety glasses while playing racquetball," he said, "but they rarely wear them while playing football, basketball or baseball. You need protection when there are any flying objects about, which includes any ball sport."

Don't forget about ultraviolet rays, the major said. Ultraviolet damage to eyes can be prevented by wearing sunglasses with 100 percent UV blocking.

"It doesn't matter if they cost $5 or $400 dollars," Major Traver said. "Sunglasses are important. In fact, they make safety sunglasses for both sun and foreign object protection."

Another way to protect your eyesight is by keeping your eyes healthy, the major said. Routine eye exams are extremely important.

"It varies by a person's age, but an average, healthy adult should get an eye exam every two to three years," he said. "Even if you don't need glasses, everyone is susceptible to eye disease."

If caught early, doctors can take care of eye disease, but people can help prevent infections by eating a healthy diet including green, leafy vegetables, and properly wearing their contacts.

"Never sleep in your contacts, no matter what the company says," Major Traver said. "The maximum amount of time people should wear them is 10 to 12 hours a day."

But why should anyone make such an effort to protect their eyes?

"You only have one set of eyes, and it doesn't take very much to injure them," Mr. Jolley said. "Try walking across a room with your eyes closed and see how far you get."
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