The arrival of summer means that it’s time to enjoy sunny afternoons, barbecues, and beaches, but it also means that it’s time to pull weeds, water flowers, and mow the lawn. In fact, American adults spend an average of 70 hours per year on gardening or lawn care, and much of that time is spent during the warm summer months when plants take root, bloom, and grass grows higher and faster than any other time of year. Before you head outside with your trusty pruning shears, however, you should recognize the risks that lawn care presents to your eyes, so here’s a list of eye safety tips to consider for when you roll up your sleeves and head to the garden.
Wear Protective Gear
Some of the most common gardening-related eye injuries stem from projectiles, such as rocks kicked up by lawnmower blades or splinters flying off a branch, striking the eye. These injuries can cause serious damage and even vision loss, so it’s essential that you wear protective gear to keep your eyes safe while gardening. Since your regular eyeglasses will shatter if struck by a projectile—which creates a risk of damage to your eye from the broken lens or frame—look for durable safety goggles, face shields, or face masks to guard your eyes.
Wash Your Hands
When you rub your eyes, you risk depositing germs, oils, and other irritants onto the surface of your eyes, where it can cause damage or infection; this risk increases while gardening because your hands may have come into contact with dirt or debris, plant-based irritants, chemicals, and other dangers. These irritants will cling to gloves, and some of them—like urushiol, the allergen in poison ivy that causes rashes—can even seep through gloves and reach your skin. As a result, avoid touching your eyes while in the garden and make sure that you wash your hands frequently.
Working outside in the hot summer sun can lead to dehydration. While dehydration has several detrimental effects on your body, it causes your eyes to stop producing tears, which can result in dry eye, eye strain, and potentially even vision problems. Guard your eyes against dehydration by drinking plenty of water before you head out to the garden and throughout your time outside.