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Workplace Eye Wellness Month 2023
Mariah Barr
9 mins read

Here Are 6 Things Trucking Companies Can Do to Promote Healthy Eye Habits Among Drivers 

As we all know, one of the most critical components to being a good truck driver is having great eyesight.

While age and genetics can have a profound impact on the quality of our vision, it's still up to each one of us to take care of our eyes. That said, it's extremely helpful when employers promote eye health to their employees, especially anyone who drives.

Since March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, now's a great time to revisit your company's approach to employee vision care.

Below, we discuss six things trucking companies can do to promote healthy eye habits among drivers:

  • Offering food and snacks that boost eye health
  • Promoting proper rest to reduce eye strain
  • Encouraging mindfulness meditation
  • Providing protective eyewear
  • Educating people on how to choose the right sunglasses
  • Making sure drivers are up to date on their DOT physicals

1. Provide snacks that boost eye health.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology talks about 36 fabulous foods to boost eye health. These include the following: 

  • Orange-colored fruits and veggies. These foods are high in beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A, a must-have for healthy retinas and for avoiding dry eye. When people hear the words "beta carotene," most folks think of carrots, which are an excellent choice. But sweet potatoes have even more vitamin A. Apricots and cantaloupe work, too. (Dried apricots are an easy, portable snack!)
  • Foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Simply put, this means it helps protect us from damage that happens due to unhealthy lifestyle habits or environmental factors. Citrus fruits of all kinds are good options. And what's easier than throwing a bag of oranges or tangerines into the cab of your truck?
  • Foods rich in vitamin E. Vitamin E is another antioxidant, and it can be found in plenty of easy-to-transport snacks with long shelf lives, like almonds and sunflower seeds.
  • Leafy greens. When are leafy greens NOT on the list? You might have heard the word "lutein" when it comes to eye health. Leafy greens have lots of lutein as well as zeaxanthin, both of which are important for healthy eyes. Encourage drivers to eat more salads. Luckily, plenty of rest stops and gas stations offer grab-and-go salads now.

It's worth noting that most doctors recommend getting all these good things from food sources rather than supplements. That said, some studies suggest a fish oil supplement could be beneficial for preventing dry eye, but debate persists. Always encourage drivers to talk to their doctors about their own individual needs. 

WILDCARD IDEA: If you truly want to get more truckers on board with eating salads, consider a gamification strategy. For every salad they eat (they can save and share their receipts), they can get points that they cash in each quarter for something meaningful—free swag, an Amazon gift card, or maybe even an extra paid day off.

2. Promote proper rest so drivers can avoid eye strain.

Preventing driver fatigue is an important issue in and of itself. But by promoting proper rest, you'll also be helping drivers protect their eyesight. 

Keep in mind that even though eye strain won't cause permanent damage, it can still be problematic and potentially dangerous since it can cause blurry or double vision, headaches, neck and back pain, and difficulty concentrating. In other words, things you definitely don't want happening to your drivers while they're on the road. 

3. Encourage mindfulness and meditation off-road.

This goes along with the previous point. Promoting proper rest involves more than simply making sure your drivers are getting enough Zs. That's critical, of course. But the mind often needs even more help.

Practicing mindfulness—whether through breathing exercises or guided meditations—can go a long way in helping our minds relax . . . and our eyes, too. And there might even be clinical reasons to focus on mindfulness and meditation when it comes to our vision.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology discusses a study from 2019 that suggests "mindfulness meditation may help lower eye pressure in glaucoma patients and improve quality of life by lowering stress hormones. Eye pressure—also called intraocular pressure or IOP—is a measurement of the fluid pressure inside the eye."

And remember, you can't be mindful when you're focused on a screen! So encourage drivers to spend time away from their phones or tablets.

4. Provide protective eyewear.

Truckers never know what they'll encounter in various warehouses or on loading docks or when they might have to scoot under the truck to check something out. Safety glasses or goggles are a must. And even more so when you consider the American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that "about 20,000 eye injuries occur in the workplace each year. Injuries on the job often require one or more missed workdays for recovery."

Keep in mind that not all safety glasses are created equal. Look for ones marked with ANSI 787.1, which indicates adherence to the minimum standards promoted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

5. Educate drivers about the right sunglasses.

Not all sunglasses are created equal, either. Drivers should make sure their sunglasses offer 100% UV protection. And drivers should remember that they need to wear sunglasses year-round.

UCLA Health says, "Look for sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection from all UV light (UVA and UVB) or 100% protection against UV 400." If drivers are unsure about an old pair of sunglasses they have banging around the cab, they should take them to an optical shop that has a UV light meter.

Other features, like anti-reflective lenses, can help reduce glare off certain surfaces, such as water. According to the organization Prevent Blindness, anti-reflective lenses can "increase contrast and also block blue light from the sun and digital devices."

The organization also recommends reducing screen time. But if your drivers can't give up their phones and tablets when they're not behind the wheel, the organization offers this tip: "Screen filters are available for smartphones, tablets, and computer screens. They decrease the amount of blue light given off from these devices that could reach the retina in the eyes."

6. Make sure drivers are up-to-date with their DOT physicals.

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles must undergo a DOT physical once every 24 months. This physical includes an eye exam.

To pass the eye exam, drivers need to have 20/40 vision in each eye with or without glasses, and a field of vision of at least 70 degrees in each eye. Drivers also need to have the ability to recognize different colors of traffic lights and signals that show red, green, and amber. (It's important for drivers to bring their glasses or wear their contact lenses when they get their physical.)

Here's everything you and your drivers need to know about vision requirements for the eye exam during DOT physicals.

BONUS TIP: Work with a partner like Foley to help manage your drivers' DOT physicals.

Stop worrying about when drivers' physicals are due—and whether you've inadvertently let anyone fall through the cracks. At Foley, our automated system does all the heavy lifting for you. Request a demo and see for yourself.

 

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