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Eye injuries at work are surprisingly common

A simple precaution could prevent up to 90% of these injuries and protect thousands of workers every year.

The personal toll of eye injuries at work is alarming. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20,000 eye injuries occur in the workplace each year. These injuries range from simple eye strain to severe trauma that can cause permanent damage, vision loss and blindness.  

The most important thing you can do to protect your vision at work is to always wear appropriate protective eyewear. This can prevent more than 90% of serious eye injuries. 

“Workers should start using protective glasses, because accidents can happen at any time because of any construction material can scratch their eye” said Dr. Sergio Groman, Retina Surgery, Macula, and Vitreous Specialist at CODET.

Use machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls to protect your eyes from hazards such as: 

  • Flying shards of metal or glass; 
  • Tools that slip or malfunction; 
  • Particles such as wood splinters, metal shavings or crystalline silica; 
  • Spattered chemicals; 
  • Any combination of these or other hazards. 

Choose the best protective eyewear for your profession 

Shield your eyes in areas where there is the slightest chance of eye injury. Anyone passing through those areas should also wear protection. This is particularly true for welders, who face a high risk of on-the-job eye injury. 

The eyewear you need depends on the hazards you face. Wear: 

  • Safety glasses with side protection (side shields) if you work around particles, flying objects or dust; 
  • Goggles if you handle chemicals; 
  • Specially designed safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets if you work near hazardous radiation, such as welding, lasers or fiber optics. 

Learn how to help an injured coworker 

Workers and employers should know how to recognize an eye injury and get help right away. Delaying medical attention can result in permanent vision loss or blindness. If you or a coworker injure your eye, follow these important care and treatment guidelines for eye injuries. It’s best to the emergency room immediately, even if the eye injury appears minor.  

Get medical help right away if you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone else: 

  • The person has obvious pain or trouble seeing; 
  • The person has a cut or torn eyelid; 
  • One eye does not move as well as the other; 
  • One eye sticks out compared to the other; 
  • The eye has an unusual pupil size or shape; 
  • There is blood in the clear part of the eye; 
  • The person has something in the eye or under the eyelid that can’t be easily removed. 

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology