Military personnel are no different than civilians when it comes to the need for eye safety. Both groups have to be mindful of vision and take the means needed to protect the eyes. The difference is there are special situations the military has to deal with that require different forms of accident prevention.
Common Causes of Military Eye Injuries and Demographics
Experience has shown that the following are primary reasons for eye injury:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Personal fights between service personnel
The demographics indicate that male military personnel under 24 years of age and tradespeople are those most likely to experience eye injury. Eye injuries themselves vary. They can be minor bruises to the eyes, very serious lacerations, and burns can happen as well.
Direct contact with the eye is not the only cause of injury. Research has uncovered the danger of an IED’s shock waves. These can cause damage leading to various levels of blindness, and without any fragments involved. These may or may not require hospitalization or outpatient service.
The blast will affect the optic nerve. The injury can even result from low level shock waves. It further demonstrates the danger an IED poses to military personnel.
Active Service Has Special Conditions
The most obvious area of potential problem is in a war zone. Ballistic fragmentation will send shrapnel and metal debris flying at increased speed through the air. Contact can easily cause severe vision damage, including blindness. Battlefield conditions are not the only special situations.
Modern technology has brought on a new danger for military vision. Lasers, particularly when used by the Air Force, has been known to cause retinal problems. These are traced to not wearing proper eye protection.
Training does not have the element of danger associated with combat, but there are the same concerns. Eye protection is needed in the event of fragmentation occurring during training exercises. The same type of protective vision wear is necessary.
The military provides a number of options for personnel to think about using. The Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL) shows approved eye protection products, which include goggles and spectacles. Ballistic eyewear, the type of goggles that can protect the eyes from fragments, is an example of protective eyewear to be used in combat areas. Manufacturers have had their products tested and examined for the sake of the Qualified Products List (QPL). Consequently, such products are recommended for use by the military.
Eye Safety Needs of Military and Civilians Alike
The term “near work” applies to tasks that are performed in front of computer monitors, GPS units, and any electronic items that involve looking at the screen for extended periods of time. The same precautions a civilian use of what active-duty people need to employ.
There are other issues of eye safety which civilians and military both have to be aware of. Ultraviolet protection by using high quality sunglasses can help prevent eyestrain. Reading books is considered near work and anyone has to be careful about overworking the eyes. Interestingly, television is not considered near because television screens are ordinarily far enough way to prevent any eyestrain.
Military personnel should take advantage of their off-duty hours to engage in sports and other recreational activities. Exercise can help reduce stress but some sports can be potentially risky for vision. Racquetball and baseball both have incredibly hard balls coming towards a person at high speed. The proper safety glasses can protect against an eye injury.
Swimming is a fantastic aerobic exercise but places the eyes in contact with chlorinated water. Wearing goggles guarantees that vision is not affected by contact with chemicals.
Low Vision is a Concern
Partial sight which cannot be adjusted by surgery or medication is known as low vision. One example is macular degeneration, but there are other causes as well. Low vision typically affects people over the age of 50, and the vast majority of military personnel are not yet even 40 years old. Low vision can still happen at a younger age, but it will most likely come from trauma.
This is why eye safety glasses are necessary. An eye injury does not necessarily result in blindness but can create situations of low vision. Prevent Blindness America has argued that approximately 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented with protective equipment.
The Right Kind of Care is Essential
The consensus is that even in the military with combat situations, most injuries can be prevented with proper use of protection. Safety goggles and glasses worn in combat are bulletproof and will protect against fragments. No matter where injury occurs, it is recommended that eye treatment be done as soon as possible, but properly. Eye injuries are not to be patched and the person should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
Military also recommends routine eye examinations. Glaucoma can be prevented and family histories of eye conditions must be shared. Much of this is the same advice given to civilians. The military has to be particular careful because of the services military personnel are called upon to render.
Military personnel have to be constantly aware of the need for safety. It is granted that in a combat military zone there will be an extra need to protect the eyes from the aggressive activity. This is not the only place where safety is needed, however. Even in recreational facilities and the home itself there has to be recognition of eye safety.
National security relies on military personnel. Sharp eyes in combat or reconnaissance can save thousands of lives. The protection a soldier wears should not just be body armor. The eyes have to be protected as well.
It really does not take that much precaution to be safe. Eye glasses and eye safety gear approved by the military can do the job. The military person has to be conscious of the need for eye safety. It can spell the difference between whether or not this person in the service of country become a casualty.