Protecting Your Eyes at Work

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The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that annually, there are about 20,000 eye injuries that occur on the job. Injuries range from eye strain to severe trauma that causes permanent vision loss. There are two common reasons that workers experience on-the-job eye injuries: 
  1. Not wearing eye protection
  2. Wearing the wrong kind of protection.

In this article we’ll cover Potential Eye Hazards at Work  and How To Work With Your Employer To Get Safety Glasses.

In a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, three out of five workers were not wearing eye protection at the time. OSHA requires eye and face protection to be worn when there is a reasonable probability of eye injury. The circumstances and situations vary, but there are many types of eye protections available to minimize the damage to the eyes.

Potential Eye Hazards at Work

The American Optometric Association lists these potential dangers: 
  • Projectiles (metal, dust, wood and other materials which could be lodged in the eye)
  • Chemicals (the splashes and fumes)
  • Radiation (visible light, UV radiation, infrared radiation and lasers)
  • Bloodborne pathogens (blood or body fluids that contain hepatitis or HIV)
Many occupations are susceptible to eye hazards. For example, construction workers, carpenters and welders are all at high-risk for injuries to the eyes. However, it isn’t so much your occupation, but what you do.
  • When you work in a setting that has flying objects or dust, safety glasses with side shields are recommended.
  • When working with chemicals, wear goggles.
  • Use safety equipment when working near hazardous radiation, such as welding or fiber optics.

Evaluate Potential Hazards

Your employer should take steps to make your work environment as safe as a possible. It’s up to your employer to reduce or remove eye hazards in the workplace. If your employer provides safety eyewear, you need to wear it. If you have prescription lenses that you need to wear, make sure your employer provides options that work over your personal glasses.

Don’t rely on your conventional glasses with side shields to protect your eyes. Your eyewear should be OSHA-compliant for your situation.

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Computer Vision Syndrome Is Another Work-Related Issue

Your optician can help you deal with digital eye strain, or Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). The average American worker looks at a computer screen almost seven hours a day at work. This can also be problematic. Talk to your employer about reducing eye strain:
  • Making sure computers are placed at least 20 inches away from your face, and about 4 to 6 inches lower than your eyes.
  • Reduce glare in the office. Side lighting, blocking light from windows and using lower wattage light bulbs can help make screens easier to see. Another idea is to install anti-glare screens on the computers.
  • Make sure workers have adequate breaks. Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes look away from the computer screen for 20 seconds at something that is at least 20 feet away.
  • Rest eyes for at least 15 minutes after 2 hours of using the computer.

Work With Your Employer and Optician to Get Safety Glasses

We have other resources to help you be more productive at work while protecting your eyes from injuries and damage. Talk to us about special lenses for computer work. Ask about safety eyewear that can be fitted to your prescription. Be safe and keep your eyes safe.