Almost any kind of manual labor carries some risk of harm to your eyes. Gardening, in particular, comes with risks unique to the activity and other more common risks.
Here, we’ll discuss the risks specific to gardening, general eye safety risks, and how to reduce or eliminate them when working in your garden.
Eye Hazards Specific To Gardening
There are substances and structures in the garden that you are unlikely to encounter anywhere else. The risks associated with manual labor, using tools, and the like include flying debris, splashing, and more can cause eye injuries if not prevented.
Some risks come from lapses in attention, which we must be especially vigilant against.
Ultraviolet rays, or UV light, have both good and bad effects on the skin and eyes. But too much is not good. Polarized sunglasses are the best solution to protect against sun damage to your eyes.
It is best to buy your polarized sunglasses especially to fit with any splash googles you plan to use. Making these things work well together can be tough, and it may take a lot of shopping around.
Even your own eyelashes falling into your eye can be extremely irritating and ruin your day. If you can’t see, you can’t work or do much of anything else. How much worse to get a bit of dirt or plant debris in your eye?
Working around dusty, dirty, and windy areas can dry your eyes out pretty quickly. Having saline eye drops around might be a good idea, especially if you’re prone to dry eye.
A dry eye makes you more likely to rub your eyes, which can be one of the biggest hazards in the garden. Shrouded goggles will be a big help also.
But overall, your garden should not be dusty when it is well-established. If the soil is healthy and moist, you should not have a lot of dust blowing around.
Venom, Toxins, Infection, and Chemicals
Many poisonous plants have toxins to discourage bugs from eating them. Pesticides can also be hazardous chemicals to the eyes, lungs, and skin.
Furthermore, when contact occurs, almost anything can cause more damage to the eyes. Spraying chemicals and eye-rubbing are among the most significant gardening chemical hazards to look out for.
Of course, when you perform manual labor, things can fly. Pulling weeds can spray dirt on your face.
Trimming hedges can send all kinds of things toward your face. Whatever does get in your eyes, it doesn’t take much to cause irritation or eye injury.
Tips On Protecting Your Eyes In The Garden
In life, there are lots of ways to damage your eyes. With gardening, doubly so. But with the right equipment and due caution, chances are high that you’ll be alright.
Following these eye safety tips will also ensure your eyes are kept from harm’s way.
Splash Goggles and Face Shields
Splash goggles look like something Bill Nye, the Science guy, would wear. But they are exceptionally good at protecting your eyes from all kinds of potential harm like garden chemicals.
Even better, they are big enough to wear over prescription glasses, polarized sunglasses, or wherever you need them.
Additionally, splash goggles also do a good job of protecting your eyes from hard impacts, like when you step on a rake. They are pretty good insurance for almost any occasion.
Face shields are another good idea. They are easy to wear and offer a strong extra layer of impact protection, especially when the debris is flying out.
Smaller and closer to being form-fitting than splash goggles, safety goggles, or any protective eyewear can be more than enough eye protection in many cases.
If they are shrouded, they can guard against dusty debris. But you can’t wear much else in addition to them.
A pair of safety glasses might be a good choice if your vision and work are light. Some safety goggles feature polarized lenses or even prescription lenses. So you could double up such a pair with splash goggles if you wanted to.
Moreover, you’re more likely to be out in the sun when gardening, which can be dangerous due to harmful UV rays.
Long exposure to ultraviolet light causes skin damage or, worse, skin cancer. This harmful light greatly damages your eyes, leading to decreased vision, cataracts, corneal damage, and macular degeneration.
This is why it’s important to wear sunscreen and sunglasses with UV protection to reduce any risk of eye injury.
Gloves and Glove Safety
Gloves are a wonderful safety tool, but using them can increase the danger to your eyes if you’re not careful.
The danger arises when working in heavy soil, muddy material, chemicals, and the like. If we work hard and become distracted, we may rub our eyes at the wrong time.
Sure, it sounds like an unlikely mistake to make. But when you’re fatigued, it can be easy to forget not to rub your eyes. It only takes one mistake to hurt your eyes badly enough to regret it.
So, our advice is to be especially aware of eye safety while wearing gloves. Using bright red gloves could help keep you from absently rubbing your eyes.
Power Tool Safety
Power tools (lawnmowers, weed eaters, chainsaws) of any kind are hazardous to the eyes. Any tool is a force multiplier, and when you exert forces using tools, the chances for sudden mechanical failures, breakage, shattering, splashing, etc., all become more serious.
We advise wearing safety eyewear when doing any work that might cause debris to fly to prevent eye damage. Using tools almost always falls into this category.
In addition, it’s important to be vigilant and turn off these power tools when there’s an unprotected bystander, especially children, near you.
Maintain and Protect Tools
Ordinary tools like shovels, trowels, hammers, and rakes can become dangerous if they are not well cared for. Rusty metal, weak handles, or poor grips can all cause a sudden failure of the tool, triggering a mechanical failure.
This is especially true of power tools. These should be kept in clean, dry spaces and inspected for rust and breakage before each use.
Tools that accelerate a cutting edge should be used with great care. Make sure the cutting edge is firmly attached before engaging the motor.
Furthermore, wooden and metal hand tools should never be left on the ground or exposed to moisture overnight. Doing so will cost you money and create a potential hazard.
Indoor/Outdoor Hygiene and Etiquette
Before coming indoors, removing boots, gloves, hats, aprons, and other gardening gear is best for an ensured level of protection. This is because when we head indoors, we tend to relax and become more likely to rub our eyes, as discussed above.
Overall, the idea here is to avoid behaviors that lower our awareness of eye safety long enough to make a mistake. Because the biggest eye-safety hazard is our tendency to lower our guard.