By Marcus Fernandez
If you associate wearing eye protection to carpenters and chemists, you would be only partially correct. Workplace eye injuries send almost 25,000 people to hospital emergency departments each year, but the fact that you work at home or in an office staring at a computer screen does not eliminate the risk of injuries to your eyes. Dry eyes, eye fatigue, irritation and other ailments affecting vision afflict office workers, students and others who use digital devices.
March is Workplace Eye Wellness month and so it’s a good time to recommitment to wear eye protection. Here to help you is some timely information about eye injuries and how to properly wear eye protection. We’ll also discuss what the experts are saying about blue-light glasses, touted as the way to protect your eyes when staring at digital screens all day.
What causes eye injuries in the workplace?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2,000 workers a day seek medical care for an eye injury suffered at work. The CDC found the following to be the most common causes of work-related eye injuries:
- Objects scraping or striking the eye. Metal particles, wood chips, shards of glass, dust, cement and rock chips. Other particles propelled through the air by tools, machinery or by the wind.
- Objects penetrating the eye. Metal fragments, slivers of wood, shards of glass, and nails can pierce the eye and cause serious injuries.
- Chemicals and caustic substances. Chemicals, such as acids and other substances used in industrial settings may cause burns to the eye.
- Thermal burns. Some professions, such as welders and electricians, are more susceptible to facial burns that damage the eyes and affect vision.
Coming in contact with a contaminated surface and transferring it by touching your eyes can cause eye infection. As we’ve learned over the past year from the coronavirus pandemic, it can also introduce diseases into your body.
Telltale signs that you may have suffered an eye injury
The American Academy of Ophthalmology cautions that recognizing the signs of an eye injury and obtaining immediate medical treatment are vital steps toward avoiding permanent impairment of your vision. Some of the common signs of an injury include the following:
- Eye pain or difficulty seeing.
- Cut or torn eyelid.
- Unusual shape or size of the pupil.
- Blood in the eye.
- Foreign object visible in the eye or on the eyelid.
- Abnormal eye movement.
Do not ignore a foreign object in the eye, no matter how small it may be. Even small particles of sand can damage the lens of the eye. It is better to be safe and have the eye examined by a health professional rather than wait and hope it solves itself.
Wear eye protection to reduce the risk of an injury
Employers in Florida must comply with federal guidelines by providing workers with eye protection whenever a worker may be exposed to flying objects and other hazards that could cause an injury to the eyes or face. The protection should be appropriate for the type of hazards a worker may face and must meet standards set by the American National Standards Institute. Do not assume that standard eyeglasses worn to improve vision will protect your eyes from workplace hazards.
The following are a few suggestions for properly wearing and taking care of eye protection at work:
- Upon receiving your eye protection, take the time to make the adjustments needed for a comfortable fit.
- Change to a different type of eye protection if what you try on causes your vision to be distorted.
- Put on eye protection before entering an area where you may be exposed to conditions or hazards that may cause an injury to your eyes.
- Keep lenses and frames clean by washing with soap and water or by using cleaning solutions specifically made for your type of eye protection to avoid a blurred or obstructed field of vision.
If your workday is spent at a computer, blue-light glasses that filter light waves from the sun and from devices that include computers, smartphones and tablets are being sold to prevent damage to the eyes. However, some experts are skeptical and, instead, recommend periodically taking breaks to avoid eye strain and fatigue.
What to do when someone causes an eye injury
The advice to wear eye protection at work reduces the risk of an injury. But speaking with a Tampa personal injury attorney may help when an injury is caused by the negligent behavior of another party. Depending upon how the injury occurred, you may be entitled to compensation. Call to speak to an experienced Kinney, Fernandez, and Boire Lawyer or fill out this form to get a free case evaluation.