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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Survival Eyecare

Posted in: Survival Medicine |

According to the CDC, 1 out of every 6 Americans has some type of vision or eye problem. This means that in the event of an emergency many individuals are going to need proper eye care, or face a lack of quality vision.Even if you have 20/20 vision proper car of your eyes is extremely important in a survival situation. Today, modern technology prevents poor vision from being a handicap, however in a survival situation poor vision can be a death sentence. Without glasses, contacts or Lasik surgery the individuals that lose their 20/20 eyesight in an emergency are more susceptible to injury or death, and have are less able to perform tasks like spotting help, hunting, and more.

Contact Lenses

Contacts seem like a poor option for a grid down situation (i.e. lack of basic services) because contacts are difficult to replace, are not sustainable, require considerable care, and are sensitive to dirt and dust. In short “they run out eventually”. Whereas glasses last until your prescription changes or you break them. But contacts do have an several advantages in an emergency:

-Contacts have a long storage life, 5-10 years in storage

-Damaged contacts are easily replaced

-Contacts are better for athletic or physical work since they hold to your eyes so closely

A great source for cheap contacts is 1-800 Contacts, but you can also obtain great deals at Sams Club, Costco or even Walmart. Just make sure you buy the brand name ones, you can’t skimp on quality when it comes to your eyes.

Glasses / Sunglasses

Prescription glasses and sun glasses are an excellent way to ensure good vision during emergencies or times of survival, mainly because they do not need to be replaced often. In an emergency glasses are easy to use, maintain and are fairly durable. The biggest problem with glasses however, is that they are very vulnerable to breaking, crushing or other external damage. A company called Wiley X manufacturers military grade glasses, goggles and sunglasses that will withstand impacts and other harsh punishments. Some even withstand fire and blasts (might be good even if you don’t have poor eye sight).

The Wiley X site lists many places where you can buy their glasses locally, however a great site to buy online is Safety Glasses USA.
Military Safety Eyewear

Sunglasses are also important to your vision because the protect your eyes from the sun, which over time can cause vision problems and even cataracts. At higher elevations this threat is more significant. Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun as much as possible to keep your eyes healthy.

Safety Glasses

Especially during dangerous chores or activities, using proper eye protection can be a huge help to preventing damage to the eye. According to “Prevent Blindness America” 700,000 Americans injure their eyes each year. Wear proper eye protection when shooting, using power tools like chainsaws or when doing anything else that might endanger your eyes.

Eye Wash

Like we have seen in many disasters, chemicals and irritants and can become a major problem, very quickly. When chemicals or waste or debris get into your eyes it can cause temporary blindness and and even permanent damage. Everyone should have a bottle of eye wash to rinse your eyes out after being exposed to chemicals. Rinsing your eyes out with clean water will work if you do not have any eye wash. It may be uncomfortable but it will not hurt to put water into your eyes.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Chemical burns to the eyes are a medical emergency. Chemicals in the eyes can cause severe pain. Start first aid measures quickly to minimize the risk of permanent injury or loss of sight. Emergency treatment for chemical burns in the eyes includes:
  • Rinse your eyes out immediately with a gentle flow of luke warm water for about 20 minutes (if you have contacts in rinse over the, do not attempt to remove them)
  • If you only one eye was affected, after about 5 mins rinse the unaffected eye. Some of the chemicals or waste could get over to the other eye during rinsing
  • If a child is the one who was exposed, be sure to get the eye sufficiently rinsed. Children won’t want to have it done but it might prevent them from going blind or having permanent vision loss

If you some dirt or debris gets into your eyes do the following:

  • Don’t rub your eye!!!!!!!!! This can cause more scratching and damage
  • Life up your eyelids and move your eye around in a circular motion to get the debris out, it should fall into one corner
  • If you cannot remove it easily, use a clean Q tip or very clean hands to try to edge the debris out

Additional Eye Care Tips

Avoiding excess tv/computer

Too much TV and computer use can be extremely damaging to the eyes. You can reduce this stress to the eyes by:

  • Taking frequent breaks, every 30 mins to an hr
  • Avoid fluorescent lights, they flicker at high rates and cause eyestrain
  • Reduce glare from windows and other lamps or lighting in the room
  • Exercise your eyes

Eating Healthy Food

Proper nutrition is the most significant factor in vision. Proper vitamins allow the eye to function, absorb oxygen and help prevent eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. The following vitamins help improve vision and prevent disease.

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Beta-Carotene
  • Zinc
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Selenium
  • Calcium
  • Folic acid
  • Thiamin
  • Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine

Some of the best foods to eat for these vitamins are:

  • Fish
  • Olive Oil
  • Flax Seed
  • Vegetables (Carrots, squash, spinach, kale)
  • Eggs
  • Raw Nuts
  • Fruit (Blueberries, nectarines)


Keeping your body healthy is the best way to keep your eyes healthy. Diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness in the US. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking can greatly protect your vision.


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