November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. And while diabetics are at substantially higher risk for eye disorders, maintaining eye health is extremely important for all truck drivers. After hours of driving in the dry conditions of a cab, eyesight can become strained, leaving drivers and others on the road in a potentially dangerous situation. However, proper eye protection and healthy habits can help drivers reduce the risk of eye fatigue, irritation, dry eye and glare – commonly known as trucker’s eye. Other eye problems common among drivers are glaucoma, macular degeneration, and poor blood flow.
Long hours of focusing on the road can not only cause general eye strain, but can also lead to more severe health issues. One of the most effective ways to protect eyes is to avoid cigarette smoke. If you are a smoker, try to smoke in a well-ventilated area outside the cab of the truck. Of course, stopping smoking altogether is the best option as smoking can cause a number of health problems.
Besides smoking, trucker’s eye could worsen due to poor nutrition and exercise habits. Starting at the foundation of health, keeping hydrated is incredibly important for maintaining eye comfort. The eye’s tear film helps create moisture. When eyes are irritated, one of the most prominent causes can be a high concentration of electrolytes (salt) and proteins in the aqueous layer of the tear film. Good hydration help your body balance that concentration. In addition to water intake, proper mineral and vitamin consumption is a must. Though difficult in this profession, eating healthy meals provides those building blocks for your body that drive the state of your health.
Cardiovascular problems and diabetes are major contributors to deteriorating eye health. Both of these conditions can be improved through regular exercise. Exercising while on the road may seem impossible, but its importance cannot be undermined. There are many programs and groups that can help create an exercise plan for drivers while they are on the road – and these programs understand the needs and restrictions drivers face when trying to stay healthy. Advocating for the health of your own body is the best way to prevent the pitfalls of a sedentary job.
Sometimes healthy habits take awhile to noticeably take effect in the body. In the meantime, there are multiple temporary solutions to help with trucker’s eye. Many drivers use eye drops to maintain eye moisture. While effective, it’s important to use a product that naturally and safely replenishes tear film moisture. Overuse of eye drops can wash away the tear film and healthy bacteria in the eye, making the user dependent on the eye drops for consistent moisture. One of the most recommended solutions for drivers is Nature’s Tears® EyeMist®. The mist provides the optimal pH balance, minerals and concentration to penetrate the aqueous layer without flooding the tear film. Best of all, this mist can be used while driving and, unlike eye drops, cannot be over-used. In addition to an eye mist, severe eye irritation can be reduced by applying a damp, hot compress over your eyes throughout the day, especially after sleeping and showering, to help moisten and relax the eye area.
And finally, eye protection in the form of sunglasses is important for maintaining eye health. Besides creating a better driving experience, proper sunglasses can reduce chances of disease due to strain and UV rays. The best option for drivers who do not wear eyeglasses are polarized, 100% UV protected, scratch-resistant, glare-reducing sunglasses. Look for a pair that features side protection for those days when the sun is in just the wrong spot. For those who wear prescription eyeglasses, Transitions® lenses has a line specifically for use while driving. These adjust to the light and, unlike traditional lenses, respond to visible light, UV light and are polarized.
Remember, a change in eye condition can be an indicator of health issues throughout the body. The FMCSA recommends eye exams for drivers every two years. However, if experiencing a change in vision or frequent eye irritation, visit an eye doctor to help determine if there are any health problems causing the changes. Treat eye health as an integral part of your career and maintain it just as well as you would your truck.