Back behind the wheel: Protect your eyes

by Dr. Christopher H. Singh

Every profession has its tools of the trade. For professional truck drivers, one of their most important tools is their eyes. Drivers rely on their eyes to safely navigate their trucks through busy streets and highways. In my clinic, I often hear drivers complain of tired or strained eyes after a long day on the road.

The muscles of the eye, just like any other muscle in the body, can fatigue or tire from overuse. In most cases, eye strain is not a serious medical condition and usually goes away once the eyes are given adequate rest.

There are many possible causes of eye strain. However, using computers or digital electronic devices such as cell phones is one of the most commonly reported causes. This type of eye strain is called computer vision syndrome.

Other activities that involve prolonged focus, such as driving, may also put tremendous strain on the eyes. In addition, exposure to bright lights may also tire the eyes. The latter two causes pertain directly to professional truck drivers. Stress and fatigue are also significant risk factors for eye strain. Finally, underlying eye problems such as eye muscle imbalances or uncorrected vision should also be considered when experiencing eye fatigue.

The symptoms of eye strain vary from person to person. However, most people who are experiencing mild eye strain complain of sore, tired and burning eyes. Headaches and neck pain are also common symptoms associated with eye strain. In more severe cases, blurred or double vision and light sensitivity may be present. Some people experiencing eye strain report having difficulty focusing on specific tasks.

The good news is that eye strain rarely causes any serious or long-term consequences. In fact, in most cases, the symptoms associated with eye strain will go away within a few days. Generally, the treatment of eye strain starts with identifying the underlying cause. In some cases, correcting vision problems with prescription lenses will reduce the symptoms.

In other cases, modifying work habits or environmental factors will be necessary. For example, wearing sunglasses while driving or making sure there is adequate light when reading or performing close-up work.

Another good tip is to position the light source behind you when reading printed material. This will prevent the light from glaring directly into your eyes. Also, avoid watching TV or working on a computer in a dark room to avoid high contrast between the screen and the surrounding environment.

Resting your eyes throughout the day is also important in preventing eye fatigue. A good rule of thumb is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer or work station and focus on something 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Here are a few tips for professional truck drivers: firstly, remember to blink often while driving in order to refresh and lubricate your eyes.

Also, make sure that the heating or cooling vents are not blowing directly into your eyes as this may dry them out. Finally, wearing polarized sunglasses will reduce glare and prevent eye strain due to excessive sunlight.

If home remedies do not relieve the symptoms of eye strain, it is important to seek medical attention for further investigation.

Until next month, drive safely!

Dr. Christopher H. Singh runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at the 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024

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