Vision Conservation and Readiness

 General Risks of Vision Injury and Illness

Last Updated: March 08, 2024
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​General Risks of Vision Injury and Illness​​​

  • Diabetes. Diabetes is the leadi​ng cause of preventable blindness among U.S. adults. In many cases, vision problems or loss of eyesight is what leads some people to get checked and discover they have diabetes.  Diabetes is typically associated with excessive weights and/or poor diet, and inadequate physical activity. This article explains more​.External Link ​
  • Hazardous activities. Combat-related eye injuries to military personnel have been reduced over time with improved military eye protection​, however the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) notes that most injuries and long-term vision damages occur during personal and recreational activities such as: 
    • Sports – Getting hit or poked in the eye by fingers, hands and elbows is a common sports injury, but getting hit by balls, racquets or other sports equipment also occurs. Wear sports goggles/impact-resistant eye protection during sports including basketball, football, racquet sports, soccer and skiing. 
    • Household work, yardwork, and home repairs – Cleaning supplies (splash hazards), rocks and debris thrown by mowers/edgers and weedwhackers, sharp tools and objects such as nails have caused both scratches and severe damage to eyes. 
    • Activities that require substantial exposure to sun rays - This especially includes certain military deployments and outdoor sports that include added hazard of sun ray reflection of snow or water, like water sports or skiing.

Preven​​tion Strategies for Vision Conservation

Tips to protect and preserve eyesight at every age:

  • Wear certified eye protective wear appropriate for the activity and hazards. Certification considerations include: 
    • Impact resistance. The DoD ensures proper certifications based on activities and hazards. 
    • Splash and dusts hazards. Consider need for vented goggles or safety shields. ​
    • UV/​​UB protection. Wear sunglasses, even on cloudy days – for both recreational and work-related exposures outside. Look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation. And, remember that your sunglasses may need to also meet impact resistance criteria, such as for skiing. 

     See this NIOSH FactsheetExternal Link for more on workplace eye safety.

  • Increase your eyes' resilience to long-term vision loss with lifestyle changes: 
    • Get adequate physical activity to reduce risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, conditions that increase odds of eye problems. 
    • If you smoke, quit. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
    • Eat eye-healthy foods. Some nutrients keep the eye healthy overall, and some have been found to reduce the risk of eye diseases. Experts at the AAO recommend getting these nutrients through foods instead of supplements. Suggested foods include: 
      • ​Orange-colored vegetables and fruits with vitamin A. Examples: carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and apricots. Vitamin A may help prevent or reduce symptoms of dry eye. 
      • Fruits and veggies rich in Vitamin C. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and lemons. Lots of other foods offer vitamin C, including peaches, red bell peppers, tomatoes and strawberries. These antioxidants can help prevent or at least delay age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract. 
      • Vitamin E which can be found in avocados, almonds and sunflower seeds. 
      • Cold-water fish with omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut and trout may help reduce risk of developing eye disease later in life and is also good for tear function so may help people with dry eye. 
      • Lutein and zeaxanthin. While eggs also are a good source of these nutrients, they are primarily found in leafy​ green vegetables like kale and spinach. Other foods with useful amounts include romaine lettuce, collards, turnip greens, broccoli and peas. 
      • Beans (zinc). The mineral zinc will help keep the retina healthy and may protect your eyes from the damaging effects of light.