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Protect Eyes To Keep Good Sight
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- While heredity decrees that some people start life with a pair of glasses and some centenarians need no vision aids, eyes should be babied so they last a lifetime.
Linda Patterson, health education specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said eyes are fragile and should be treated with care. Have eyes examined regularly, and take all measures to avoid eye injuries.
"Accidents resulting in eye injuries can happen to anyone, but more than half happen to people under age 25," Patterson said. "Parents need to be sure their children's eyes are protected, and everyone needs to take life-long care of their eyes."
According to statistics released by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 100,000 eye injuries occur each year during sports or recreational activities, and 90 percent could be prevented. Teach older children to use safety goggles with equipment such as lawn mowers and saws.
Contact lenses are not a form of eye protection. Eye care specialists recommend children wear sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses and side shields when playing basketball, tennis, racquetball and soccer. A helmet with polycarbonate face mask or wire shield is recommended for those playing baseball or hockey.
Eyes face other risks in addition to injuries.
"There is no conclusive evidence that computer video display terminals are harmful to the eyes, but since complaints of eye discomfort and fatigue are common, safety concerns over these terminals are receiving more attention," Patterson said.
Dim lighting or video terminals can lead to eyestrain, with symptoms of eye irritation, difficulty focusing and headaches. But these symptoms do not mean the eye is being damaged.
"To relieve eyestrain, search for the cause in surroundings," Patterson said. "Your ophthalmologist can examine you to rule out eye disease and provide proper glasses, if needed."
Eye exams are recommended at several points in life, even when there seems to be no eye problems. Give children eye screenings at birth, and age 6 months, 3 � and 5 years. Until age 40, adults need only be examined if eye problems occur. After 40, all adults need eye exams every two to four years until age 65. At this age, conduct exams every one to two years.
Sunglasses actually protect the long-term health of eyes, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Both plastic and glass sunglass lenses absorb some ultraviolet radiation, but use glasses which offer increased protection.
"Shop for sunglasses that block 99 or 100 percent of all UV light," Patterson said. "Be sure the glasses offer protection from both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B light."
Some sunglasses offer protection from infrared rays, but these have not been shown to be harmful, the American Academy of Ophthalmology said. Blue blocking lenses supposedly make distant objects more distinct, and are popular in snow and haze situations. Polarized lenses cut reflected glare, but do not block UV rays.
"Wraparound glasses keep light from shining around the frames and into your eyes," Patterson said. "Enough UV rays enter around ordinary frames to reduce the benefits of protective lenses, while wraparound glasses can protect eyes from all angles."
Contact lense wearers face an easily overlooked source of eye problems in cosmetics. Follow label directions and use only clean applicators to reduce the chance of eye injury or irritation from cosmetics. Consult an ophthalmologist if problems arise.
"Misuses of products and adverse reactions to ingredients used in cosmetic formulas have been responsible for lens deposits and eye irritation, dryness, allergy, injury and infection," Patterson said.