Eye injuries are a common reason behind lost quality of life and productivity in North Americans. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported that at least 2,000 workers in the U.S. sustain job-related eye injuries every single day.
Workplace eye injuries are not limited to workers alone. Accidents can strike anyone of any age at any time. The smallest splash of a chemical, acid or grease in a lab can affect the cornea. Long hours of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can severely damage the retinal and superficial tissues and lens. Welding arc can flash into the eye and damage the cornea. Injuries can also occur from metal or wood chips in labor intensive jobs. So how do we best protect our most sacred sense and avert such accidents?
Health professionals say that about 90% of job-related eye injuries are preventable. The simplest way to protect the eyes is to cover them with appropriate gear. Three out of five injuries occur from inadequate eye protection, because they didn’t give it enough importance. It’s not enough to just wear protection. You need the right gear for different job situations.
It helps to be informed about ways to prevent such accidents.
Protective Gear for Common Workplace Eye Hazards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outlines a few ways to protect the eyes at the workplace:
- Flying particles during construction work (dust, wood or metal chips) – Wear high impact safety glasses, side shields, and helmets.
- Exposure to chemicals and toxic fumes: Wraparound safety glasses, face safety shields and sweat bars.
- Radiation from Welding (heat & infrared rays, lasers): Glasses with special filters to protect the eyes from radiation exposure, helmets.
- Strong Sunlight: Sunglasses with 100% UVA/UVB protection.
- Infectious diseases from body fluids (sweat, tears, blood, urine, saliva, etc.) – Face mask, gloves, protective glasses, bodysuit, etc.
- Visual strain from long hours before a digital device – Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen for 20-seconds at objects located 20 feet away. Blue-light blocking lenses.
- Swimming Pool: Wear UV protected waterproof swimming goggles.
Whatever glasses you choose to protect yourself, it is important to ensure they are high-quality and a good fit to keep away hazards without reducing vision.
Common occupations that report eye injuries:
- Auto repair
- Electrical services
Employers need to take the proper steps to create a safer workplace. Both employees and employers should have access to a certified, reliable eye specialist who can help determine the right eye protection for the job. Safety lenses are available in polycarbonate and Trivex™, of which, polycarbonate lenses are the most impact-resistant. Trivex on the other hand, has better optical qualities.
Those with contact lenses are better protected than those with eyeglasses because they allow an extra layer of protective eye gear to be worn over them, unlike the latter. Contact lenses also offer less visual distortion than eyeglasses. The American Optometric Association permits construction workers to wear contact lenses in most eye-hazardous environments but in the case of chemical fumes, contact lenses need to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Consult your optometrist to choose the right kind of contact lenses and protective eye gear that’s best for your work environment.
Dr. Jeff Sciberras – Top Rated Optometrist in Mississauga
We were voted Top Choice Optometry Clinic in Mississauga, the Top-Rated Optometrist in Mississauga and the Top-Rated Pediatric Optometrist in Mississauga in 2019. Visit us for knowledgeable, friendly service to address all your vision and eye care needs.