Maintaining eye health is crucial for seafarers, as their work often involves exposure to various environmental factors, and reliance on good vision for navigation and safety.
Having good eyesight
s a result of various requirements (such as those established in ILO Convention No. 73 and the STCW Convention), the pre-employment medical examination (PEME) for seafarers typically includes an assessment of their vision to ensure they are fit for their intended role at sea.
While specific requirements may vary, undergoing regular eye examinations conducted by professionals is crucial for seafarer safety, especially for those working bridge watch and other positions that require a keen eyesight.
Pre-employment eye examinations are especially important for cases of minor vision impairment that may go unnoticed in everyday life but may prove detrimental onboard.
Stick to your vision
Seafaring is considered heavy duty work and crew members are exposed to conditions that threaten their eyesight. For instance, Britannia P&I Club has presented recorded incidents such as:
- Equipment failure when working with equipment such as hammers, grinders or pliers, where the equipment breaks and damages the eye, or a solid piece of metal breaks off and enters the eye.
- Solid particles entering the eye during routine operations such as hold cleaning, deck sweeping, paint chipping, rust removal and general maintenance works.
- Harmful liquids entering the eye such as splashes of chemicals, paint, thinner or other dangerous liquids.
However, there are certain measures that can be employed onboard to prevent such incidents from happening.
#1 Proper PPE
Use appropriate protective eyewear, such as sunglasses, safety goggles, or welding shields, to safeguard your eyes from harmful UV rays, glare, flying debris, or hazardous materials.
Remember that this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Protective equipment should be fitted to each person’s physique, regarding the task at hand. For instance, safety goggles are not enough to protect you during welding.
#2 Stick to safety protocols
Having knowledge of the task at hand and the dangers it could hinder is especially important to prevent any injuries.
Knowing how and when to use a tool can be lifesaving. Exercising the necessary safety precautions such as the safe distance, duration, and environment to complete a task is crucial.
Even daily routines that are performed numerous times before, still require a certain amount of vigilance. Because you haven’t hurt yourself so far by not using appropriate equipment and safety standards, it doesn’t mean that you won’t hurt yourself this time.
#3 Keep your eyes clean rested
Putting strain on the eyes, as with any part of the body, can be very harmful. One way to avoid putting strain on your eyes is through proper lighting. You should avoid completing tasks in low light as it tires the eyes and can lead to eyesight problems.
Severe light exposure is also a no-go. Severe light exposure can lead to heavy eyesight problems.
Proper sleep and resting habits can also aid in maintaining good eyesight. If you feel that your eyes are tired or you’re starting to get dizzy or seeing strange patterns, stop the task at hand immediately and rest your eyes.
Furthermore, make sure that anything that comes in close contact with your eyes, including your own hands, is clean and free of harsh chemicals, germs, or debris.
#4 Respect your limits
Remember that nothing is more important than your safety and well-being. If you experience problems with your vision, pain, or discomfort, do not dismiss it and seek medical advice.
Furthermore, if you are prescribed glasses or contact lenses, they should always be worn, even if you feel confident with your vision without them.
Being a seafarer means, among other things, that you get to see many parts of the world, don’t lose that opportunity.