Severed optic nerves, ocular melanoma, detached retinas, pterygia, orbital fractures…these are some of the catastrophic injuries and diseases that occur when people don’t wear eye protection.
In the United States, 600,000 sports-related eye injuries occurred in 2010, with 42,000 of them needing expensive emergency room care. For the workplace, each day, approximately 2,000 U.S. workers sustain eye injuries on the job that cost businesses $300 million a year when combining medical bills with productivity downtime. The most interesting statistic is that 90% of these injuries were preventable. So why aren’t more people protecting their eyes?
That is a question Eric Katenda might be asking himself. ESPNU’s No. 27-ranked power forward and Notre Dame recruit for the class of 2011, Katenda was enjoying a pick-up game of basketball this past July when he suffered what he called, “a freak accident.” Going for a rebound, his optic nerve was severed when poked in the eye by another player’s finger. He’s now dealing with irreversible vision loss in one eye and was told by doctors nothing can be done to repair the damage. Katenda is determined to play basketball for Notre Dame and the compassionate university has allowed him to keep his scholarship money even if he never plays again. To protect his good eye, he is currently using specially fitted goggles but only decided to do this after the damage was done.
THE DANGERS OF IGNORANCE
There are people who choose to ignore the danger signs of vision loss, and there are those who are unaware vision loss are occurring to them. Either way, 25.2 million people in the U.S. are living with some degree of vision loss caused by not being proactive in their eye care. These people suffer everything from blurred, cloudy, and double vision. Sometimes they may suffer poor night vision, loss of peripheral vision, and even blind spots. They similarly suffer when they are wearing their glasses or contact lenses.
If vision loss isn’t problematic enough, legal blindness affects 1.3 million people in the U.S., 55,200 of them being children. Legal blindness is defined as visual acuity, at best, of 20/200 or less in the better eye, even with the best possible correction. Each day these individuals are challenged with productive and independent living. Everything from reading, writing, and maintaining a career, along with traveling and enjoying recreational sports are a continual daily challenge. Within the legally blind population, 109,000 are using white canes for guidance, and approximately 7,000 use guide dogs.
In the worst-case scenario, eye disease can kill. Death by ocular melanoma, also known as uveal melanoma, is a rare but aggressive disease with an estimated 2,480 cases and 230 deaths annually in the U.S. (source, American Cancer Society). This results in as many as 7.5 cases per million people. After 10-15 years, fifty percent of the cases metastasize which is almost always fatal especially if it spreads to the liver. While melanoma of the ciliary body has the worst prognosis, melanoma of the iris has the best. Of all the eye cancers, choroidal melanoma is more common among blue-eyed, fair skin people who work outdoors, as well as individuals who live in Australia where ultraviolet radiation can be more intense. Some in the scientific community believe that this cancer could be related to UV exposure.
ASYMPTOMATIC TO DIPLOPIA,
HELMET WITH POLYCARBONATE
APPROPRIATE PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR/GOGGLES WITH
INDUCES ASTIGMATISM, CORNEAL SCARRING, OBSTRUCTS VISION
SUNGLASSES WITH SIDE SHIELDS,
BLOCK 100% UV RAYS
GLAUCOMA, VISION LOSS, DEATH
SUNGLASSES THAT BLOCK UVA AND UVB RAYS
POSTERIOR CAPSULE OPACITY
SUNGLASSES THAT BLOCK UVA AND UVB RAYS
WELDER’S BURN/ARC FLASH
BURNING PAIN, CONSTRICTED PUPILS, TWITCHING EYELIDS
PROTECTION THAT TRANSMITS 5-10%
VISIBLE LIGHT AND ABSORBS ALL UV
RAYS/LARGE LENSES WITH SIDE SHIELDS
VITREOUS COLLAPSE, FLOATERS
SAFETY GLASSES THAT MEET SPECIFIC ASTM/ANSI STANDARDS
REFLEX TEARS, EPITHELIAL DEFECTS, EDEMA
EYEWEAR THAT BLOCKS 100% UV WITH 180 DEGREE WRAP PROTECTION
PHOTOKERATITIS /SNOW BLINDESS
PERMANENT LOSS OF CENTRAL VISION
SUNGLASSES WITH UVB PROTECTION AND
IRIODIALYSIS, CORNEAL CALCIFICATION,
HELMET AND SAFETY GOGGLES
GAUCHER’S DISEASE ASSOCIATION
SUNGLASSES THAT BLOCK 100% UV RAYS, FACE FORM / SIDE SHIELDS
PARTIAL OR COMPLETE BLOCK OF VISION
SAFETY EYEWEAR THAT MEETS SPECIFIC ANSI/ASTM STANDARDS
“IT WON’T HAPPEN TO ME” SYNDROME
Unfortunately, there are many people who learn the hard way. The reality is that many professional athletes have lost their careers because of eye injuries. Young athletes in particular are at a greater risk of eye injury because of their emerging skills, developing hand/eye coordination, and underdeveloped sense of depth perception. Forty four percent of reported sports-related eye injuries are in children under the age of fourteen.
In addition, other high-risk categories are those with preexisting eye conditions. These include individuals with high prescriptions and those who have had eye surgery, as surgery has been known to weaken the general state of the eye. In addition, be sure to include those with amblyopia (commonly referred to as “lazy eye”) since we always want to protect the eye that still sees best.
The invincible feeling some athletes have, leads to unnecessary eye injuries. The Vision Council spokesperson Amare Stoudemire, a six time NBA All-Star and a 2004 Olympic bronze medalist, is another eye-poke casualty. Injured by a teammate during training camp while playing for the Phoenix Suns, he suffered a torn iris. Stoudemire proclaimed that he would wear protective goggles for the rest of his career. That proclamation lasted only seven games when he decided he was tired of wearing them. Soon after, he suffered a partially detached retina in the same eye during an inbounds play. Stoudemaire is lucky; his injuries have healed and his long term prognosis is excellent. Unfortunately, others aren’t quite so lucky.
MAKING A SPECTACLE: THE 10 BEST GOGGLES / GLASSES IN NBA HISTORY
KAREEM ABDUL JABBAR
HAKEEM “THE DREAM” OLAJUWON
OLD AGE SKIN CANCERS, AT 20?
Remember that first great tan? It lifts our spirits and gives us that bronzy glow that makes us look healthy. But, how healthy is it? The ozone layer is reported by some scientists as depleting 8% per decade during the winter and spring seasons, and 2-4% during the summer season. The ozone layer typically absorbs 97-99% of the sun’s high frequency UV light (UVC), a more damaging UV radiation. But now, unabsorbed UVC rays are reaching the earth’s surface at an alarming rate, which would normally be stopped by the earth’s atmosphere.
Several factors determine who is at greater risk for ocular damage from outdoor rays. These include geographic location, altitude, and time of day. Other factors include medications and particular outdoor settings like wide open areas where there are reflective surfaces. By the age of 18, nearly 50% of lifetime UV exposure has occurred because children spend more time outdoors than adults. This is especially problematic for children’s since their eyes aren’t fully developed making it easier for UV rays to do cumulative damage.
Indoor tanning isn’t any better. Tanning salons use lamps that emit UV-A and UV-B radiation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has concluded that both types of UV are carcinogenic to humans. Previously, they alleged that there was a likelihood the rays were carcinogenic to humans. The IARC have since found conclusive evidence that there is a correlation between UV-emitting tanning devices and ocular melanoma. Dr. David Leffell at Yale University (in a 2009 Podcast) describes the emergence of what were older age skin cancers now presenting in 20 something’s where tanning beds have been used regularly.
ON THE JOB OR AT HOME
Another group at great risk for eye injury is the manual labor workforce. For example, eye injuries account for one-quarter of all welding injuries, according to research from Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety. Common causes for eye injuries in manual labor include flying slivers from wood, plastic, metal and cement, scrap materials and windblown dust, chemicals and ultraviolet light from torches. Photochemical burns and radiation affect those who produce computer equipment, fabricated metal products and production of commercial machinery.
Not only should this labor force be wearing helmets, but also safety glasses with side shields that comply with ANSI Z87.1. The best protection is goggles that protect from dust, molten particles and radiation hazards because of the sealed protection, which does not allow fragments to get inside.
Most people are unaware that home injuries account for almost half (44.7%) of all eye injuries. Being splattered in the eye with hot oil while cooking is no fun. The misconception is that most eye injuries occur in the workplace or on the playing field. Home repairs, cooking, cleaning, and yard work are the source for home injuries yet many people don’t think to wear protection during these times. In a survey performed by The American Academy of Ophthalmology, only 50 % of the respondents reported wearing protective eye wear during home and yard maintenance. Surprisingly, a simple solution to the majority of home eye injuries would be to wear polycarbonate protection.
Non-profit organizations like Prevent Blindness America, Lighthouse International, American Foundation for the Blind and Vision Aware are just a few organizations that need donations and volunteers. These groups raise awareness by supporting vision research and providing government advocacy. Some provide vision screenings while others educate individuals on how to enhance their quality of life and provide support for their families and caretakers. Volunteering your time, donating supplies and fundraising, will help non-profit organizations make a big impact on many levels. The AOA and Luxottica have come together to promote See It, Say It and Sell It, a program that provides the ECP an effective way to educate and prescribe sun protection.
What good is eye protection if it is the incorrect type and it’s not worn correctly? Employee safety committees at corporations are a positive way for employees to volunteer and discuss safety issues and procedures, as well as receive training on the proper use of safety equipment. Ultimately, passing this knowledge onto all employees for its implementation into the workforce is the goal. Consider providing an eye safety presentation at local businesses department and management meetings. Incentives – moral, social, and financial help ideas matriculate. When people help others, they are rewarded by an inner-satisfaction and recognition which is good for morale. In fact, most consumers’ today favor buying products from companies that also helps protect and give back to society.
An effective way to give back as well as promote your office is to work with a company’s safety officer and teach about eye safety. For example, “Who Says Safety Isn’t Cool”, from Wiley X, provides a complete kit and program for any office to visit and detail businesses in your area about the need for safe eyewear. The concept is this – since one never knows when an eye accident can happen, and most people do not think of wearing or even have a separate pair of safety outdoor eyewear. Why not make contemporary and fashionable sunwear that consumers would choose with Z87.1 safety certification built in? In that way, the outdoor eyewear they’d wear for sports, sun and the jobs around the house are automatically protective. Consider using these words with a safety officer or presenting at an eye safety meeting, “these sunglasses offer extreme protection, are modern, sleek and have the ANSI Z87.1 safety certification. There are both street, motorcycle, fishing and extreme velocity specialty designs for the home, workplace, and all sports enthusiasts. Because many of the models have ballistic certification, they are a major supplier to the armed forces and law enforcement. If it’s good enough for national defense, us weekend warriors will be in good hands, too.”
Become aware of the safety curriculums at schools in your area. They are becoming more widespread throughout the country. With the help of education, children can learn about and be less likely to have accidents. For example, “One Pair of Eyes” is a free Ohio Department of Health Curriculum for children in grades 7-12. This web based program on eye health and safety is designed to positively affect students about eye health, protection, and safety practices.
There’s nothing better than a role model to encourage people, particularly children, to wear protective eyewear. Some of the reasons eye protection isn’t worn are low perception of risk, discomfort, and vanity. Kids think it’s “not cool” to wear eye protection and don’t want to look like nerds. Who can blame them? While there is no evidence that protective eyewear impedes athletic performance, more and more professional athletes are wearing it and kids may very well be inspired to wear it, too. Anyone can be a positive role model. Even Master Carpenter Norm Abram on the PBS series This Old House has spent 30 years promoting the importance of wearing eye protection doing carpentry projects. By taking a kid to a game to witness some of their favorite athletes in action wearing protective eyewear, they may realize that it has to be cool.
SUPERIOR IMPACT AND SHATTER RESISTANCE
SUPERIOR SCRATCH RESISTANCE
100% UV ABSORPTIVE
SUPERIOR IMPACT RESISTANT LENS
SUPERIOR SCRATCH RESISTANCE
100% UV ABSORPTIVE
ELIMINATES BLINDING GLARE
ENHANCES CONTRAST AND VISUAL CLARITY
ENHANCES DEPTH PERCEPTION
REDUCES EXCESS LIGHT
DIFFERENT FILTER COLORS ENHANCE DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES
FACE FORM OR WRAP SUNWEAR
KEEPS SIDE LIGHT FROM ENTERING THE EYE (AROUND THE FRAME)
MULTI-LAYER AR COATING
INCREASES LIGHT TRANSMISSION
REDUCES REFLECTIONS AND GLARE
ENHANCES NIGHT VISION
VERY EFFECTIVE FOR INTENSE LIGHT CONDITIONS, ESPECIALLY WHEN COMBINED WITH TINTS
ADDS ABOUT ANOTHER 10% ABSORPTION
SOME COLORS ABSORB INFRARED
100% UV ABSORPTIVE
ADJUSTS TO ANY LIGHT
MORE CONVENIENT THAN CLEAR LENSES
REPELS OIL, DIRT, WATER AND SWEAT
MAINTAINS CLEAR VISION IN CHANGING HUMIDITY
SAFER SINCE LENSES STAY CLEARER
STANDARDS CHANGE, BE CURRENT
Effective in 2010, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) changed their standards of safety protection for eyes. Safety eyewear is now organized by hazard type and which eye protector is best for specific hazards. The revised standards suggest eye protectors either be labeled “Non-Impact Rated” or “Impact Rated.” There is also a minimum coverage requirement on the front of each eye protector and “Impact Rated” eye protectors also require lateral coverage.
New protectors are to give protection against splashes, droplets, and dust. Gone is the ANSI Z87.1-2003 flammability test which has been replaced by an ignition test to see if the eye protector will ignite when touched by a hot steel rod. Lenses shall now have a manufacture’s mark as well as a + symbol if impact rated. Frames must also have a manufacturer’s mark plus Z87 and a “+” if impact rated. For complete details visit ansi.org where copies of the complete standard can be purchased.
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), lists standards for a variety of sports and is the most stringent standard for protective eyewear.
EYE-SAFETY STANDARDS BY SPORT
EYE PROTECTORS FOR SELECTED SPORTSRACKET SPORTS, WOMEN’S LACROSSE,
FIELD HOCKEY, BASEBALL, BASKETBALL
EYE AND FACE PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR HOCKEY PLAYERS
EYE PROTECTORS FOR USE BY PLAYERS OF PAINTBALL SPORTS
HEAD AND FACE PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR ICE HOCKEY GOALTENDERS
FACE GUARDS FOR YOUTH BASEBALL
HIGH-IMPACT RESISTANT EYE PROTECTIVE
DEVICES FOR ALPINE SKIING
GROWTH FOR TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES
Even though companies are cutting back on wasteful spending and individuals have less discretionary income, good ideas get implemented. Wellness sells since it ultimately saves money. Eye safety is exactly that, invest in it and it can reduce the cost of treatment, lost productivity and wages.
This suggests two opportunities; sell eye protection benefits to employers in your area and to the customers that enter your office. So, what’s the best way to capitalize on this?
Identify target markets (corporations, schools, recreational organizations)
Contact those in charge of safety for these groups and schedule educational presentations
Display the latest and most stylish safety eyewear
Show them how and why their business benefits from safety eyewear
Communicate the importance of safety and style so that employees will actually wear it
Don’t leave the meeting without an order
Implement a program through full service optical care (fitting, dispensing, maintaining, etc.)
Companies like Hilco/Wilson have been making products that provide maximum protection and stylish frames for over 40 years. Their OnGuard industrial safety eyewear program meets ANSI Z87.1-2003 safety standards while their trademarked A-2 frames are specifically designed for 2.0mm polycarbonate lenses. The Expanded Sports Vision Program provides a multitude of choices for protective eyewear for all sports enthusiasts and are rx-able. A benefit that Hilco/Wilson provides to opticals is the development of their Frameworks program, which helps opticians with solutions to common dispensing problems. Important program features include a sales management team that give personal account management for your store, excellent pricing and service, and a no obligation policy to buy their products. Hilco/Wilson products are made of stainless steel, Logic Comfort nose pads, SAFE-LOK locking screws, and are unbelievably comfortable and durable. They give free product replacements and a one year “no hassle” warranty to all who are interested. This program is offered exclusively by Hilco/Wison, and can help your optical increase profitability and help you gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
WHY WAIT ‘TIL THE DAMAGE IS DONE?
An eye catastrophe can happen to anyone, anyplace, anytime. The best defense is a great offense