Vision Correction in an Austere Setting


Glasses on the ground

According to the numbers, a good majority of people require some type of vision correction every day. This means people wearing glass or contacts so they can see, some with vision so bad they can’t see a clear image within 6 ft. In an extended situation that puts people in an austere setting, vision will be an absolute necessity for survival. Vision will be needed to assess damage, threats, and all manner of things. So the question for most is how to correct it?

Glasses for many are the go to vision correction device. Vision correction classes were invented somewhere around the year 1278, and has been the primary vision correction since. Glasses from a survival aspect have many characteristics that are beneficial on a day to day use, but there are some characteristics that need to be weight for their use.

For the most part the average person’s glasses are pretty tough and unless the lens themselves break can almost certainly be fixed with some wire and tape. There are small glasses repair kits that can be bought, like this one for a breakage situation also. As with most things, part of the broken glasses problem can be corrected by having an extra pair of glasses. You break your primary pair you can pull out the backup pair and you’re good to go. This does mean an extra cost for another pair, but they can be had for reasonable prices online for about 30~65 dollars.

One of the issues I have with glasses is that they do not work on peripheral vision, which I find I use a lot when outside. For many this is not a problem, but in a situation where you need to be alert, being able to clearly see when you look sideways may come to be a good thing.

On the plus side glasses do provide a certain amount of protection for your eyes against debris while in the austere setting. Digging through rubble looking for family items in a house that was flattened by a Tornado comes to mind. One thing that some people can do for an extra pair of glasses and that are ANSI safety rated is to check with their employer. If you work for a company, especially one that does construction type work, be that houses, metal fabrication, or landscaping they probably have a safety glasses plan. This would allow you to get an ANSI safety glass rated pair of prescription glasses for free. Thus giving you a backup pair and a good pair for digging in the rubble.

If glasses are you choose here are a few items I would recommend to complement your glasses.

Mil Pod Hardcase – This hard case has a clip and can fasten to molle.

Tigris Hardcase – Another style of hard case with a clip and straps.

Glass Strap – Will help keep them on your face in any activity, and allows you to take them off while keeps your hands free.

Contacts are another solution to the vision correction problem, and for some it’s the method of choice. Others can’t or won’t wear them due to putting things in their eyes, eye sensitivity, and many other reasons. They make contacts that are worn at night which are removed in the morning, much like a retainer for your teeth. They are called CTR lens, and they give a person 20/20 vision all day and some people even longer, while only wearing them while you sleep. I have personally wore these and loved them. There are of course the traditional contacts that are meant to be worn from morning to night and then removed.

While I prefer contacts over glasses to wear every day, there is one overriding issue I have with contacts in an austere setting. That issue is cleanliness. If the water is out for weeks and you are not able to adequately wash your hands you are running a huge risk that you would put a dirty contact in your eye. Vision is all important, but the possibility of an eye infection is huge. If you were to get an eye infection, the best course of action is to see a doctor and get medicine….if available.

This simple over-riding fact is the reason I will be wearing glasses in the event something profoundly happens to my way of life. Unless I can get the third option.

Surgery; the only other option available is laser eye surgery. The primary version is referred to as LASIK. The first version of laser eye surgery was called PRK and was approved for use by the FDA in 1995. Back then it was hugely expensive, and for some it didn’t have lasting effects. Today though, LASIK is deemed a permanent solution to vision correction, with only a very limited number of cases that it is not. When PRK was first released it could cost as much as 2000 dollars and eye, but today’s LASIK can be done for as little as 350 dollars an eye and even cheaper in some places.

The benefits of having 20/20 vision without the need of corrective lens is obvious and really has no permanent drawbacks except for the initial cost. This correction of course will not help correct the vision issues that come with age. Unfortunately reading glasses will still be needed when age finally catches up with you.

If a time comes when disaster is afoot and you are having to spend far more time outdoors in a rough atmosphere or working you will need good vision. How you get that good vision is a choice each person will have to make. Like many things in the preparedness thought processes this should be thought about sooner rather than later.

Edit Sept 7 2017

After publishing this article another good way of getting extra pairs of glasses was mentioned to me. Save your old glasses. Especially if you have insurance that pays for a new pair every so often……use it. Whether you need it or not, get that new pair and put the old ones aside. They can be put into your BOB, GHB, or just keep them in your vehicle.

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