On-the-Job Eye Injuries & How to Prevent Them

SAN DIEGO, CALIF (August 28, 2016) - Accidents in the workplace cause more eye injuries than you might think, especially in certain fields such as construction. The good news is that most of these injuries can be avoided with some simple safety procedures.

“Studies show that taking precautions, such as wearing proper eye protection, can lessen the severity of workplace eye injuries and even prevent 90 percent of them,” says Sandy T. Feldman MD, Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center in San Diego and one the nation’s top eye surgeons. “When it comes to your eyes, it’s ‘Safety First.’”

Could your eyes be at risk? Here are some common workplace hazards:

Chemists and laboratory staff should wear eye protection whenever working with liquids, as some chemicals can splatter into the eyes and cause permanent damage - even blindness.

Healthcare workers, laboratory staff and janitorial staff may be at risk of exposure to certain infectious diseases, which can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eye. This can occur through direct exposure to blood, respiratory droplets generated during coughing or from touching the eyes with contaminated fingers or other objects.

Electricians and anyone else who handles live wires must be very careful for obvious reasons, not the least of which is their eye health. Electric shocks can inflict serious damage to vision, resulting in cataracts or sometimes total and permanent blindness.

Welders can experience severe eyestrain from staring at bright light for extended periods of time, and their eyes can also be injured by flying pieces of metal, radiation and chemical burns. People in various other professions are at similar risk. For example, kitchen workers often sustain eye injuries from splashes of hot grease or burns from steam. Engineers and healthcare workers can be exposed to radiation. Construction workers and people in manufacturing are often injured by wood or metal chips projected at high speeds.

Desk jockeys who work with computers all day might feel pretty safe on the job, but there’s reason to be mindful there as well. The average American worker spends seven hours a day in front of some sort of a screen, and prolonged viewing of digital devices such as computers and smart phones can be hazardous to eye health. Even if the potential damage from all this screen time isn’t extreme, digital eyestrain can cause blurred vision, fatigued eyes and headaches.

Dr. Feldman offers some simple tips to help protect your eyes on-the-job:

  • Be aware of the eye safety dangers posed by your particular line of work
  • Eliminate hazards by using machine guards, work screens or other safety features
  • Always use proper eye protection, such as safety goggles with a UV coating
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent eyestrain - take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes

What to do in the event of an eye emergency? Seek medical attention as soon as possible, particularly if you have pain in the eye, blurred vision or loss of any vision.

“No matter what you do for a living , always take steps to protect your own health,” Dr. Feldman says. “And be sure to have your eyes checked on a regular basis so that any potential problems are spotted early.”

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