Eye health may be something that you give little thought about. Good eyesight is critical to many types of jobs, and workers should be diligent about protecting their eyes while at work.
An advocacy organization, Prevent Blindness America, estimates that every year nearly one million Americans lose some or all of their eyesight as a result of an eye injury. Moreover, each day more than 2000 American workers suffer from an eye injury. Prevent Blindness America also estimates that nearly three out of five people suffering eye injuries at work were not wearing eye protection gear at the time of the workplace accident.
Employees Working with Materials Potentially Harmful to the Eye
Employees who work in construction or laboratory environments, for example, should always be sure to wear some type of personal protective equipment (PPE) for their eyes while on the job. This could include prescription or non-prescription glasses, safety goggles, face shields, welding helmets, or full-face respirators. Workers should also have ready access to eye wash stations in order to react quickly if a chemical or another type of foreign contaminant enters the eye.
Depending on the work environment, some workers are also at risk for eye infections. Workers in healthcare, janitorial work, laboratory employees, or employees who regularly handle animals may be more at risk for these types of infections.
Office Workers at Risk for Vision Problems
Additionally, office workers who are seated in front of a computer all day should be sure to have some sort of protection from the screen of the computer. This could include machine guarding, work screens, or other engineering controls.
Although the results are still unclear, we are now learning more and more information about the dangers of “blue light” from digital devices. Repeated exposure to blue light at work could lead to eye strain, which includes dry eye, sore or irritated eyes, and difficulty focusing. This exposure could also cause retina damage, which could eventually lead to macular degeneration or cataracts.
Opticians are now offering lenses that may block or reduce the amount of blue light coming into the eye, and this could be an alternative to filter screens on the computer.
Dry eye, in addition to being caused by aging and certain other medical conditions, can also be caused by a dry environment. This could be common in office workplaces where heat may cause the air to be extremely dry.
March is Eye Safety Month
Prevent Blindness America has declared March to be the month to raise awareness of eye wellness in the workplace.
Workers should be sure to get their eyes checked periodically in order to maintain overall eye health. This should be done annually or as recommended by your eye-care professional.
Those who suffer an eye injury at work will likely have a valid Workers’ Compensation claim regardless of who was at fault.