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An Eye for Eyes, by B.A.

Dear Reader,

As a person who has been blessed with not needing reading glasses, I am usually happy to read lists on prepping that tell the readers to make sure that they have extra prescription glasses in case they break their everyday glasses and cannot get new ones due to unforeseen circumstances. It’s one more place I can save a few dollars. That’s great, but is it really that simple? Many times I have glossed this fact in my mind. I wear sunglasses everyday. They are cheap and available everywhere, which is a good thing because I am a little rough on them. Between the odd time when I sit on them or toss them onto a parts-strewn surface and scratch the daylights out of them, mine have a relatively short lifespan. I used to hang them on my head. Unfortunately, the cover crop is thinning out too much and cannot hold them there any longer. After the second smashed pair that fell off backwards, I start hanging them on my shirt. Now most of my t-shirts have a slight ‘V’ in the collar that my wife hates. If I do not hang them, they get forgotten and, therefore, bent, broken, or lost. As a professional driver they are an important part of my everyday carry. Of course I never thought of it as such. You do not want to drive far without a pair when driving into the sunrise or sunset or when facing a horrible glare off equally horrible city buildings, traffic, or in the winter on the Prairies when everything is white for miles. I drove a week once with a plastic Snoopy pair because I needed them and could only find one set in my size at a gift shop. Beggars cannot be choosers, and I was begging. The last thing I grab when I leave the house is a pair. I also snatch a pair when going to the garden or to work on equipment. I like the slight amber lens because while driving it helps me to notice animals. These same glasses help with the green brown contrast and go straight from my work truck to my hunting truck. The UV protection and anti-glare contrast are very helpful. Coming from a hunter, it may sound strange, but I would rather see and slow down for an animal than hit it. I do not feel that unnecessary death is something that I can live with as a cost of doing business. Additionally, these plastic trucks seem to disintegrate on impact with June bugs. As much as I use my sunglasses I had never before thought, “What if this was the last pair that I could ever buy? Have I even considered how I can protect my eyes from everyday things that happen? If the SHTF, how many things am I going to be doing that can be less than healthy for my eyes? Do I have extra sunglasses for when the lenses become crazed with scratches or milky? What about when they fall apart?”

I had a pair of sunglasses once that I left in the car in winter. When I hopped in and put them on, my body heat caused the lens to crack in half. You do not go very long without finding yourself with a new pair. Right now I have the option of buying new tools (safety glasses are tools) to use. What about down the road when they start breaking or wearing out? I know that my safety glasses have saved my sight while using the grinder. I have thrown out many a pair that had too many burns in the line of sight. Also, while using old wire wheels, I have picked lots of loose wires out of my clothes. One time I thought I was stung on my face but really had one lonely wire sticking straight out of my upper lip. Sure you say, that is a power tool, and after the SHTF we will be using hand tools. Well, then, I suppose you have never broken a drill bit. Even hand tension can send pieces of high carbon steel flying like it was shot from a slingshot. Additionally, since most people will be doing things that they have never done before, I am certain that there will be quite a few improperly used hand drills, not to mention that casehardened mild steel punch and chisel set that can be bought cheaply from an import tool store. They may be a cheap way to fill your Armageddon survival fantasy toolbox, but the first time your strike sparks, you will realize that those little pieces flying around you are dangerous. For the more adventurous prepper you may get into torches and welding. Cheap safety glasses will save you the first time you are soldering a pipe and manage to leave a couple drops of water in the line. Believe me, molten lead can sputter. (This also applies when casting bullets.) I have several shirts that are only used now for plumbing, because of the lead melted into them. The little mixed gas brazing tanks can be bought cheap and used when there is no power. Their goggles are handy, and you can pop out the dark lens and just go with the clear ones as an expedient dust goggle. If you plan on welding, well, you have more money than me. If the power stays on, my wife has the best auto darkening helmet I could find. It is good for stick welding, mig/tig, torch, and if you leave it off you have a great grinding shield. Yes, she is the welder in my family. It is simple common sense. She is great at it and wants to weld. Stick your pride on the shelf in the shed, and let those who can do. In many of those weird movies that have post-apocalyptic themes, the people many years into the future are wearing some kind of welding goggles. Why? They are industrial use. Fairly cheap safety glasses and replacement lenses are available now. You should buy some. For the cost of the one pair of ultra cool Oakley’s, you can have dozens of clear, smoked, amber, or mirror safety glasses and replacement lenses. Buy some for the whole family. Ever since I first saw that ad that everyone has seen with the sunglasses that have stopped a bullet, I have thought about what it would be like to have that kind of protection. Of course, if everyone who was nasty enough to shoot at you would be kind enough to only use .22 short at the range of 50 feet or more, that would be great. Realistically, just like the military, I have come to the conclusion that the simplest form of danger to your eyes is the best one to protect for. I am talking about dust, wind, little bits of stuff blasted into your face, and of course simple bad luck. Think bad luck is not important? How about the last time you walked into a tree branch that was perfectly level with your head and scratched up your face? What about those psychotic little flies whose only purpose in life is to commit suicide by dive bombing your exposed eyeball, while you are busy doing something outside? Think that cannot happen at an inopportune moment? In the SHTF time, you will be outdoors alot more often than you are used to– possibly up to 24 hours per day. When I first thought of this, I went down to the local Salvation Army store and found three pairs of skiing goggles. I paid $3 for two pair and $3 for the third pair. This beat the pants off the surplus ones for $20. Considering that I plan to use sunglasses most of the time, it was still nice to find a cheap backup. I also use them when shooting. Sure I learned without them, but the little things have taught me better. I first started when I learned black powder. The guy who showed me, (yes, I had an enthusiast teacher) said that you never know 100% of the time what is going to happen. Sure, things are very well made, but a firearm is a controlled explosion. He put a cap on an empty chamber and fired it. That thing was mangled. He said that he had never been hit in the face with a fragment of brass, but he was never going to take the chance. I took that lesson to heart. Now, all shooting is done with glasses. I stopped shooting one brand that was made by a drunken gintaster in an un-named factory, because I noticed too many flattened primers and too many burnt casings, suggesting breach blowby potential. If that had happened, it may not destroy the firearm, but it can send oil droplets and dust (even rust flakes or carbon cakes, for those who do not clean their weapon properly), at high velocity into your face. This can seriously affect your health and well-being if that second shot is a must. As well, when reloading ALL steps can be dangerous. I have a quarter inch scar on my left index finger from trying to catch a dropped shotgun hull before it hit the ground. The primer burst with my hand beside it. Sometimes it is best to step back and let things fall. Things happen. Yes, I was wearing safety glasses. The reloading manuals all say that you should wear them at any time you handle propellants and primers. Left to my own devices, I did not know any form of commonsense as a child. I had many days without eyebrows. Looking back I am absolutely amazed that I did not take an eye out. I did have instruction about this though. My grandfather (may God rest his soul) was blinded in one eye during WW2. He would never even allow me to use a lawn mower without first putting on safety glasses or, at the very least, sun glasses. If you refused, you could not work at his farm. Grandfather had a tough life finding work, as a man with no depth perception. He always had a job, but he also had lost several in his life because the company would not allow a one-eyed man to work machinery. He used a glass eye, but eventually he was found out. It is not the same now, but back then that was life. I understand now why he was so upset when us, grandchildren, took unnecessary risks. He was trying to protect us from his life. He taught me to use my first gas power tools. When I got old enough to finally use a chainsaw, I automatically put on the glasses. I do not use just glasses anymore, because as anyone who has used a chainsaw knows pieces of wood fly everywhere. I worked in forestry for a while, and it was required that we use full face shields whenever we started up our saws. I found that the wire mesh one worked best, because in the summer it allowed a breeze to cool your face and did not fog with your sweat or breath. If you are buying your saw, go to a proper dealer. They will have these great helmets that have the shield and ear muff attachments. I may not work with a saw professionally, but I still keep this stuff for when I cut firewood. Now, even when fully blind one can be a productive member of society, and these changes are good. Making full use of people, instead of giving them pity or ignoring them, gives them good value and self determination. Discrimination is wrong, but what about after SHTF? If you loose an eye, are you going to be able to bag the wild game that your family needs to eat? If it is your shooting eye,can you protect yourself properly with one-half of your vision being a blind spot? What if you lose both eyes from some accident and suddenly have no way to properly support yourself or your family? Blindness will most likely be a death sentence for those after a SHTF situation. Those born that way will at least have the advantage of always being that way. You w ill have a learning curve that most likely will be insurmountable, unless you already have a large community or family that will be willing to take care of you and yours while you adjust. If your community has certain standards, they may only assist in a finite number of charity cases. Also, the government could use your situation as negative, in regards to who is useful versus who is not. I am sure that there are charts and triage requirements that say a one-eyed person has less value. It would be a shame to have to be separated from loved ones because they meet a certain criteria and you no longer do. Going back to eighteenth century medicine is not going to be easy. When you are on your own and cannot get a doctor to check out your pinkeye that you got because something got in there and infected it, you may loose your sight. Right now you buy your milk at the market. If the time comes that you must get it yourself, you will find very quickly that cows love to wrap their tails around your head while milking. Those tails, covered in dust and sometimes excrement, can put foreign matter into your eyes. This can very quickly turns out bad. Flushing them with warm milk does sometimes help clear up that infection, ironically. Several years ago my wife got metal splinters in her eye while at work. She was driven to the emergency room and got fixed up proper. It was an accident. This same accident, in a SHTF world, would have left me trying to use her eyebrow tweasers, while she screamed and flinched at every move I made. When you have no way to fix the problem, the best thing to do is try to prevent it the best way that you can before it can become a problem. Having some safety glasses or even sun glasses around, plus extras, can keep you in the habit of using them too. Just because it is a pain to go get them or that you lost them are no excuse, when it comes to protecting your eyes. I had an uncle who also lost an eye, but it was because he was too impatient to walk across his shop and get a pair of safety glasses.

Keeping yourself with vision (not visually impaired) in the future could require nothing more than simply spending a few dollars on a few items now that most of us never think about until it’s time that we need them.