March is Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month. Now before you think that this article may not apply to you, think again. Thousands of workers sustain job-related eye injuries each day. Though we typically associate work-related eye injuries with outdoor jobs such as construction, manufacturing, auto repair, welding, carpentry, landscaping, or electrical jobs, office jobs have also become increasingly hazardous to your eyesight.
Our goal is to raise awareness about eye health and safety within the workplace whether you are working outside or inside.
Unfortunately, 90% of all eye injuries can be reduced in severity or prevented with proper eye protection and safety practices and 10-20% of all work-related eye injuries will cause temporary or permanent vision loss. Workplace eye safety is imperative in industries where injuries are more likely to occur such as construction or those that require the use of machinery, equipment, and generate debris that can damage eyes. The primary cause of on-the-job eye injuries include:
- Striking or scraping– dust, cement chips, metal slivers, and wood chips can strike or scrape at the eye if unprotected. Large objects may also strike the eye or face causing blunt-force trauma to the eyeball or eye socket.
- Penetration– objects such as nails, staples, or slivers of wood or metal can penetrate through the eye and result in permanent loss of vision.
- Chemical and thermal burns– industrial chemicals or cleaning products are common causes for chemical burns to one or both of the eyes. Thermal burns are a common occurrence among welders.
This month is a good time to review safety guidelines at work and implement wellness and safety protocols for eye health. Take time to re-evaluate the safety precautions of your workplace and know the eye safety dangers of your job. Be sure to eliminate hazards before working by using machine guards and other precautions.
All employees should have access and know how to use the right forms of eye protection and all safety eyewear should be in good working condition. Proper eye protection includes prescription or non-prescription safety glasses, goggles, face shields, welding helmets, or full-face respirators.
Digital Eye Strain
The average adult spends over 11 hours a day staring at digital devices whether for work or leisure. Most digital devices have LED lights that radiate blue light which can be harmful to your vision. Prolonged blue light exposure can lead to digital eye strain, dry and irritated eyes, blurred vision, difficulty focusing, eye fatigue, neck and back pain, and headaches. Over time, the prolonged usage of blue light-emitting devices can lead to retina damage such as macular degeneration or cataracts.
As we spend more time on electronic devices, we must take our vision into account. Talk to your optometrist about how much you use electronic devices during your daily work routine so that he or she may make recommendations to reduce the effects of digital eye strain.
- Make sure your screen is 20-26 inches from your face and a little bit below eye level
- Enlarge the text for more comfortable reading
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes of screen time
- Take frequent breaks and give your eyes a rest from the screen
- Remember to blink as sometimes looking at electronic devices for extended periods of time makes you blink less often and causes your eyes to become dry and irritated
It is important to schedule regular eye exams with your optometrist. Comprehensive eye exams are a great way to keep tabs on your eye health. Be sure to mention to your optometrist any potential work-related hazards so that your optometrist helps you prevent injury. For more information on how Workplace Eye Wellness and how to best protect your eyes, contact St. Lucy’s Vision Center today.