Eye Protection Guide

Chemicals or foreign objects in the eye and cuts or scrapes on the cornea are common eye injuries that occur at work. Other common eye injuries come from splashes with grease and oil, burns from steam, ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure, and flying wood or metal chips.

 

In addition, health care workers, laboratory and janitorial staff, and other workers may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases from eye exposure. Some infectious diseases can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eye. This can occur through direct exposure to blood splashes, respiratory droplets generated during coughing, or from touching the eyes with contaminated fingers or other objects.
Some working conditions include multiple eye hazards. The proper eye protection takes all hazards into account.

 

Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain, describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use. The average American worker spends seven hours a day on the computer either in the office or working from home.
Safety glasses provide eye protection for general working conditions where there may be dust, chips or flying particles. Side shields and wraparound-style safety glasses can provide additional side protection.

 

Safety lenses are available in plastic.. While all four types must meet or exceed the minimum requirements for protecting your eyes, polycarbonate lenses provide the highest level of protection from impact. Goggles provide protection from impact, dust and chemical splash. Like safety glasses, safety goggles are highly impact-resistant. In addition, they provide a secure shield around the entire eye and protect against hazards coming from any direction. Goggles can be worn over prescription glasses and contact lenses.
Full face shields protect workers exposed to chemicals, heat or blood-borne pathogens. Helmets are used for welding or working with molten materials. Face shields and helmets should not be the only protective eyewear. They need to be used in conjunction with safety glasses or goggles, so the eyes are protected when the shield is lifted.
Contact lenses can’t provide significant protection from eye hazards in the workplace. However, there is no evidence that wearing contact lenses increases the risk of eye injury.

Contact lenses may actually increase worker safety and productivity because they often provide improved vision in the workplace. Individuals who wear contact lenses usually have a wider field of vision than with eyeglasses. They also often have less visual distortion, especially with higher power lens prescriptions. In addition, wearing contact lenses instead of eyeglasses can improve the fit and comfort of eye safety equipment, such as goggles and full-face respirators.

In some cases, such as when hazardous chemical fumes are present, the safety of contact lenses may need to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Check your employer’s safety policy regarding the wearing of contact lenses. Your optometrist can help your employer and you determine whether you can safely wear contact lenses in your workplace.

Seek medical attention as soon as possible following an injury, particularly if you have pain in the eye, blurred vision or loss of any vision. Several simple first aid steps can and should be taken until medical assistance is obtained..
You should wear safety eyewear whenever there is a chance of eye injury. Anyone working in or passing through areas that pose eye hazards should wear protective eyewear.
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