Protect yourself from invisible eye injuries

Most eye injuries are preventable if you wear protective eyewear—on and off duty. Although many Military Service Members exposed to bomb blasts in the field walk away unscathed—or so it would seem—there could be some damage they’re not “seeing.”

High-pressure shockwaves from explosive blasts can cause serious eye trauma. In fact, up to 10% of all blast survivors experience significant eye injuries, often from projectiles thrown into their eyes, eye perforations caused by the high-pressure blast waves, or other effects on the eyes associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

You don’t need to experience a major blast to end up with damaged vision. Even a mild TBI (concussion) can affect your eyesight. If you were exposed to a blast while in the field, or had a hard hit to your head or body that gave you a concussion, don’t wait to set up an appointment with your eye doctor. Prompt medical attention could prevent permanent injury.

Here are a few ways to help protect your eyesight:

  • Get your eyes checked regularly. Chances are your service branch requires you to have an eye exam at least once a year as part of your annual health assessment. TRICARE covers annual eye exams for Military Service Members, so get one done.
  • Wear protective eyewear. From goggles to sunglasses, DoD’s approved Authorized Protective Eyewear List® has many options to choose from. While the list is updated twice a year, your service branch might have restrictions on which models are approved for use, so be sure to check.
  • Limit staring at your smartphone. Many smartphones now include a filter that can help reduce sleep problems caused by being on your phone before you go to bed; be sure it’s activated.
  • Avoid “computer eyes.” Just like staring at your phone can cause eye damage, staring at a computer screen for long periods of time can affect your eye health as well.

Learn more about potential vision problems that can result from traumatic brain injury. Your vision is extremely important! For more information on protecting your eyesight, visit the Vision Center of Excellence.

References

Army Public Health Center. (2019). Personal protective equipment - Eye protection overview. Retrieved May 30, 2019 from https://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/workplacehealth/vcr/Pages/Eye-Protection.aspx

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Explosions and blast injuries: A primer for clinicians. Retrieved May 30, 2019 from https://www.cdc.gov/masstrauma/preparedness/primer.pdf

Goodrich, G. L., Martinsen, G. L., Flyg, H. M., Kirby, J., Asch, S. M., Brahm, K. D., . . . Shea, J. E. (2013). Development of a mild traumatic brain injury-specific vision screening protocol: A Delphi study. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 50(6), 757–768. doi:10.1682/jrrd.2012.10.0184