Why Eye Care is Important for Keen Gardeners

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Gardening can be a relaxing opportunity to connect with nature, and it’s no surprise that more individuals have been taking up the cherished pastime in recent years. However, this tranquil activity is not entirely without its share of potential dangers. Certain plants, from leadwort to ragweed, can pose unexpected threats. Pollen and sap from these poisonous shrubs can get into your eyes, forcing you to head indoors before the irritation worsens immediately.

Such risks make it evident that safeguarding your eyes is not just a suggestion — it’s an absolute necessity for an unhindered and fulfilling gardening experience. Thankfully, this can be easy to do once you’ve understood the need for eye care for keen gardeners. Let’s take a closer look below.

Plant pollen and debris


While an essential aspect of the natural lifecycle of plants, plant pollen or dirt can easily get carried by the wind or your hands and make contact with your eyes. Irritation is only one possible symptom, and you may also experience itchiness, swollen eyelids, and even soreness, burning, or pain.

To counteract these perils, it’s crucial to don safety goggles in the early morning and evening when pollen counts are highest or when you are clearing out old fields for spring. Additionally, keep an eye-washing solution on hand for a quick rinse or secure antihistamine eye drops with a prescription from your doctor.

UV exposure


Spending extended hours in the garden can equate to prolonged exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. This can increase the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye conditions.

That’s why farm and forestry workers wear hats with broad brims, if not at least peak caps, to shield their faces during warm weather. You can purchase a sun hat made of breathable mesh sections from North Face or Patagonia and pair this with a good pair of UV-rated sunglasses. Swap your safety goggles with a good pair of sunglasses when the sun rises and reaches its highest point. To stay protected from pollen and debris, choose sunglasses with a secure wrap-around design, like Oakley’s Sutro or Encoder. Additionally, you can also upgrade to polarized lenses. This can significantly benefit gardeners as they help increase contrast between greens and reduce glare from water and foliage. These protective measures will preserve your vision and keep your eyes comfortable as you tend to your garden.

Chemicals and weed killer use


Weed killers and pesticides are commonly used in gardening to control unwanted vegetation and pests. However, these chemicals can be hazardous to your health and the environment, especially if used carelessly. Glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup have been under scrutiny due to their potential carcinogenic properties, whereas Atrazine has raised concerns regarding endocrine-disrupting effects and adverse environmental impacts.

Thus, farmers and farm workers are encouraged to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimize pesticide exposure. Most wear a hat, long-sleeved shirts, and trousers, while others opt to don aprons, masks, and goggles to protect their eyes from harmful chemicals. You can build your own PPE to shield your eyes from chemical splashes or fumes or ditch these chemical pesticides altogether. Instead, you can opt for natural weed killers like bleach or vodka. Handling these natural weed killers with care is imperative, just as you would chemical-based ones. Work downwind to avoid drifting chemicals and wear proper gardening gloves to avoid direct contact. Promptly take these gloves off afterward, and make use of other protective gear, including safety eyewear, to safeguard your eyes from stray droplets.

Conclusion

By staying informed and implementing these safety measures, you can ensure that your love for gardening remains a vibrant and harm-free passion.

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