Having our eyes serve as “windows to the world” is one of the most important gifts we have been given. It is surprising how many accidents happen that affect the way we are able to see the world. Equally surprising is that about one-half of eye injuries happen at work, while the other half occur at home.
To avoid injuries in the workplace, here are some suggestions:
- Always wear the appropriate protective eyewear on the job;
- Know what the safety dangers at work are;
- Eliminate hazards before starting work;
- Use machine guarding, work screens, or other engineering controls.
Common causes for eye injuries are:
- Flying objects (bits of metal, glass);
- Any combination of these,or other hazards.
The type of safety protection that should be worn depends on the hazards in the workplace. OSHA has regulations for face and eye protection; employers’ safety directors should determine which type is appropriate to ensure that the job is done safely. Here are some examples of safety eyewear:
- Sporty Safety Goggles (working with chemicals);
- Eyeglasses with side protection (side shields);
- Faceshields (working in the medical field, welding, lasers, or fiber obtics);
- Safety eyewear should be OSHA-compliant and approved by ANSI.
- Safety sunglasses should be UVA and UVB compliant to block strong rays that can damage the eyes.
Eye injuries can happen at home, too. When mowing the yard, using a power trimmer or edger, or clipping hedges and bushes, goggles would be a safe bet to protect your eyes. In the workshop, working around tools, with solvents or other chemicals, or tasks that produce fragments, dust particles or other irritants, glasses with side protection or goggles would be best.
In the house, there are many ways one can harm their eyes. Never mix chemicals such as bleach and other common household products. Many are very harmful and cause 125,000 eye injuries each year. Foods can spatter hot oil or grease while being cooked. Even curling irons have been known to cause injuries; just think about how close they are to your eyes and face! Be careful hammering nails into hard surfaces, because they could become projectiles.
It’s really up to you to be prepared. At home, keep the right kind of eye protection handy. It only takes a few seconds to put it on; otherwise, it could take a long time to overcome an injury to your eye or eyes. Be compliant at work and always wear your safety gear!
If an injury occurs, see an ophthalmologist or go to the emergency room immediately, even if the eye injury seems minor. Delaying medical attention can result in permanent vision loss or blindness.