According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 2,000 workers in the United States each day experience a job-related eye injury needing medical attention. One third of these injuries are treated by emergency room doctors, with some requiring one or more days off from work. To bring attention to this problem, March has been designated as Workplace Eye Wellness Month by Prevent Blindness with support from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and American Optometric Association (AOA) to promote eye safety in the workplace.
Most Common Causes of Workplace Eye Injuries
Most eye injuries at work are caused from blunt-force trauma or scraping. Objects hitting the eye or face or walking into an object can cause trauma to the eyeball or eye socket. Scrapes or scratches to the eye can be caused by flying materials like:
- Wood chips
- Metal slivers
- Cement chips
Injuries from penetrating objects are also common on worksites and can cause a permanent loss of vision. Common objects are staples, nails, or metal or wood slivers that can go through the eye.
In workplaces where industrial cleaning products or chemicals are used, workers are at risk for chemical burns to their eyes. Welders are especially at risk for thermal burns to their eyes that can damage their eyes and surrounding tissue.
Office Work Also at Risk for Eye Injuries
Often, people associate eye injuries in the workplace with working with tools or with construction trades. You might be surprised to hear that if you work in an office environment, you are not immune to an eye injury on the job. Digital eye strain is quickly becoming a common workplace eye injury. Spending long hours at work in front of a digital screen whether it is a computer, tablet or smart phone increases your risk of developing this condition.
If you suffer from digital eye strain, you can help prevent it by:
- Taking breaks to rest your eyes
- Staying hydrated to keep your eyes moisturized
- Reduce computer screen glare
- Activate your screen’s blue light filter
- Wear blue light glasses with an anti-reflective coating
Preventing Workplace Eye Injuries
The first step to preventing workplace eye injuries is to understand your risks. The next step is to always wear personal protective eyewear that is designed for your specific work situation, such as:
- Safety glasses
- Face shields
- Full face respirators
The protective eyewear should be well-fitting, comfortable and not impede your vision.
Don’t Delay Medical Attention for Eye Injuries
If you injure your eye(s), do not wait to seek medical attention. It could mean the difference between keeping your vision or have a permanent loss of it. You may need to be initially treated at your local emergency room.
After treatment, it is essential to follow up with your eye doctor to monitor your healing progress. Schedule an appointment a doctor at Valley Eyecare Center by calling (602) 955-2700 for follow-up care for your eye injury.