It seems that more frequently then ever we are seeing reports of natural disasters disrupting the lives of people all over the world. Have you ever taken a moment to think how you would respond if a tornado, flood, fire or other natural disaster hit your home, work or place you are visiting? Depending on where you are and any advanced warning that is available, your level of preparedness will vary. If you rely on glasses or contact lenses to see well, extra considerations are needed to ensure the safety of your eyes and your vision both during and after a natural disaster.
LASIK and other vision correction procedures are popular choices for first responders in need of vision correction. They need to be confident that there vision is clear, comfortable and dependable at all times, no matter the environment. They not only need this vision at the drop of a hat when disaster hits, but also for the hours to weeks of hard and potentially dangerous work required to keep people and property from harms way after the disaster.
Disasters such as flooding, earthquake and hurricane can result in contaminated water supplies. In this situation, a person is at risk of potential illness due to the lack of clean water. Those who depend on contact lenses also need clean water to wash their hands when handling their contact lenses. Poor water conditions can put one at risk of eye infection that can result in permanent vision loss.
If you are in a situation with a contaminated water supply, you want to consider the following options if dependent on contact lenses. According to the CDC, you must maintain a rolling boil for a minimum of one minute to purify tap water. If you are at a higher elevation this may need to be increased to 3-5 minutes. If bottled water is available, you can use the bottled water to wash your hands. Hand sanitizer can be used in place of soap and clean water. Just make sure to give time for the alcohol to dry before touching your contact lenses or eyes. Glasses may be the better option to eliminate the risk of infection from handling contact lenses.
The clean up after natural disasters often involves long hours of work over weeks to months. These conditions can be made worse if you constantly have to clean your glasses or dry your face of sweat that is causing your glasses to slip on your face. Worse yet, you glasses could break. Also, the clean up environment is often dirty, which can make wearing contact lenses uncomfortable and potentially increase the risk of infection. The long hours of work can also lead to discomfort due increased wearing time of your contact lenses.
It is a good idea to have an emergency kit to meet your vision needs. The following items should be included in your emergency kit if you wear glasses and/or contact lenses:
• Back-up prescription glasses
• Extra contact lenses, solution and contact lens case
• Bottled water, soap and hand sanitizer
• Antibacterial wipes
• Copy of your most recent glasses and contact lens prescription
You will want these items in a waterproof container. You will also want one for each member of your household that wears glasses or contact lenses.
We all want to avoid disaster if at all possible. If we are impacted by a natural disaster this information should help minimize the risk of any vision threatening problems.