Is your work environment hazardous to your eye health? Whether you work around sharp objects, chemicals, or even computers, you may be exposing your eyes to something harmful without even knowing it.
But you’re not alone. Nearly 2,000 workers in the United States experience a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment, according to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While eye injuries can range from minor to severe, eye damage is not something anyone wants to encounter.
Chemicals and Foreign Bodies
According to Trent Albright, MD, an ophthalmologist who specializes in cornea/external disease and surgery with ProMedica Physicians Eye Care and sees patients in Ohio and Michigan, common damages to the eye include foreign body injuries and chemical burns.
“Most often, small pieces of metal from industrial or mechanical work get embedded in the patient’s cornea, causing severe pain and light sensitivity, “ explains Dr. Albright. “Higher velocity injuries with foreign bodies can even result in lacerations to the eye, sparking a surgical emergency.”
But sharp objects aren’t the only things to look out for. Dr. Albright shares that liquids can be equally dangerous.
“Chemical burns can result in severe damage to the cornea and the surface of the eye and may result in blindness. We commonly see these from cleaning chemicals,” he says.
Using the proper eye protection is the most important step in preventing an eye injury. Dr. Albright recommends safety glasses, which may include simple glasses, goggles or even face shields. Keep in mind that employers should always provide protective eye gear to their employees.
Injuries At Your Desk
Eye issues don’t just affect those working with dangerous chemicals or tools. People with desk jobs have an increased risk for eye strain.
“Your eye relies on small muscles that allow the natural lens of the eye to focus for near or computer vision,” Dr. Albright states. “Prolonged periods of reading or close work often lead to eye strain. I recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a break from the computer for at least 20 seconds and focus on something at least 20 feet away.”
For people who have dry eyes, Dr. Albright suggests keeping lubricant eye drops in reach.
Challenge: In honor of women’s eye health and safety month, honored throughout the month of April, identify possible eye hazards at your workplace and take action to protect your eyesight. Share your thoughts in the comments below.