How to Prevent Eye Injuries in a Hazardous Workplace
Did you know that in the U.S. about 2,000 workplace eye injuries occur every day? Almost 70% of accidents happen because of flying or falling objects. And would you believe, most of the objects are smaller than the head of a pin?
Most workplace eye injuries occur where safety eyewear isn’t required, or left up to the individual to decide if they’ll wear it. Many of those injured on the job didn’t think they needed to wear safety glasses or protective gear, or were wearing eyewear that didn’t provide adequate protection.
Don’t become an eye injury statistic! Follow the eye safety checklist below to protect your vision.
Eye Safety Checklist
This quick checklist will help you avoid workplace eye injuries and may also make you more aware of possible hazards outside of work.
Create a safe work environment.
Minimize hazards from falling or unstable objects.
Make sure that tools work and that safety features are in place.
Make sure people know how to use tools properly.
Keep bystanders out of hazardous areas.
Evaluate safety hazards.
Identify the primary hazards at the site.
Identify hazards from nearby workers, large machinery, and falling/shifting objects.
Wear the proper eye and face protection.
Select the right eye protection for the work site.
Make sure safety eyewear is in good condition.
Make sure safety eyewear fits right and stays in place.
Use smart workplace safety practices.
Always brush, shake, or vacuum dust and debris from hardhats, hair, forehead, or your brow before removing protective eyewear.
Don’t rub eyes with dirty hands or clothing.
Clean eyewear regularly.
First Aid for Eye Injuries
But if there is an accident, follow these steps:
Specks in the Eye
Don’t rub the affected eye.
Flush the eye with lots of water.
See a doctor if the speck doesn’t wash out, or if pain or redness continues.
Cuts, Punctures, and Foreign Objects in the Eye
Unlike with specks of dust or metal, be sure not to wash out the affected eye.
Don’t try to remove a foreign object stuck in the eye.
Seek immediate medical attention.
Immediately flush the eye with water or drinkable liquid. Open the eye as wide as possible. Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes, even on your way to seeking medical care.
If a contact lens is in the eye, begin flushing over the lens immediately. Flushing may dislodge the lens.
Seek immediate medical attention.
Blows to the Eye
Apply a cold compress without pressure, or tape crushed ice in a plastic bag to the forehead and allow it to rest gently on the injured eye.
Seek immediate medical attention if pain continues, if you have reduced vision, or if blood or discoloration appears in the eye.
Combat Computer Vision Syndrome
Maybe your job requires hours of work at a computer. Maybe you like to spend your free time surfin’ the Net. Whatever the reason, your body is feeling the effects of spending too much time logged on—dry eyes, tired eyes, headaches, neck pain, blurred vision. Luckily, help is on the way.
Six Simple Steps to Relief
1). Here are some simple steps you can take to help minimize the impact of Computer Vision Syndrome:
2). Keep blinking. It washes your eyes in naturally therapeutic tears.
3). Remember 20-20-20. Every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away, minimum.
4). Get the right light. Good lighting isn’t just flattering – it’s healthy for your eyes. So, keep bright lighting overhead to a minimum. Keep your desk lamp shining on your desk, not you. Try to keep window light off to the side, rather than in front or behind you. Use blinds and get a glare screen. Position the computer screen to reduce reflections from windows or overhead lights.
5). Monitor your monitor. Keep it at least 20 inches from your eyes. Center should be about 4 to 6 inches below your eyes. Also, make sure it’s big enough and with just the right brightness and contrast. Adjust the screen so you look at it slightly downward and are about 24 to 28 inches away. Adjust the screen settings to where they are comfortable — contract polarity, resolution, flicker, etc.
6). Wear those computer glasses. Your doctor can prescribe a pair of eyeglasses just for viewing the computer screen well. If necessary, wear the appropriate corrective lenses while at the computer.
How to Help Dry Eyes
Every time you blink, your healthy eyes get a bath from a fluid that's a combination of oil, water, and mucus. This fluid, or tears, helps protect and moisturize the eyes. When something irritates your eyes or interferes with the production of tears, it can result in irritated dry eyes that are vulnerable to corneal abrasions.
Dry eyes are actually very common. More than 20 million Americans suffer from this annoying and sometimes painful condition. If you think you have dry eyes, check out some of these common symptoms and possible causes. Once you understand the culprit, you can begin to make changes to relieve your burning eyes, once and for all.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes:
Dry, itchy, or burning eyes
A scratching sensation, or feeling like there's grit in the eyes
Sensitivity to light causing squinting and blinking
Difficulty focusing because of dryness
Both eyes are usually affected
Watery eyes (a little known fact!)
How to Treat Dry Eyes:
Avoid drafts and use a humidifier to put moisture back into dry air.
If allergies are causing your eyes to itch and dry out, try lubricating, preservative-free eye drops formulated for people with allergies.
Check the side effects of your medications. If you're taking one that causes dry eyes, your doctor may need to change your prescription, or she may recommend that you begin using eye drops to lubricate your eyes.
Don't wear your contacts for too long, keep them clean, and always wash your hands before handling them.
Take frequent breaks from computer work or reading, and keep your eyes lubricated by remembering to blink often.
Turn off ceiling fans when possible.
Lay a warm, damp washcloth across your eyelids for a couple minutes.
Ask your doctor about punctal plugs which block tears from draining from the eye.
Ask your doctor for EyePromise EZ Tears dry eye and contact lens comfort formula.
For a refreshing sensation, cool your eye drops in the refrigerator about an hour before using them.
Check expiration dates on your eye drops.
Never share eye drops.
Drink plenty of water.
Wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes from wind and sun.
Take an omega-3 fatty-acid supplement; shown to restore lipids-they're a key component of tears.
Common Causes of Dry Eyes:
Dry air caused by indoor heaters
Some medications like antihistamines, antidepressants, and birth-control pills
Poor fitting or dirty contacts
Long hours spent reading or staring at a computer screen
Blocked tear ducts
With a few simple changes you could begin to notice a real improvement. If after one month your eyes are still bothering you, make sure to see your eye doctor - severe cases can lead to eye damage and vision loss. During your eye exam, your doctor can check for vision problems and signs of health conditions that could be causing your dry eyes. An accurate diagnosis is important because symptoms of dry eye can be caused by other things like allergies or uncorrected refractive error or astigmatism.
Ever see stars or spots in your vision? Most people do and often ask their eye doctors what’s behind them. Dr. Dana Ziskrout, an optometrist in Houston, Texas, is one of those doctors who’s fielded that question a lot.
His patients often describe the spots as objects floating in their vision. Hence, the common term, floaters. “They try to brush it away or track it visually, to no avail,” he says.
But what causes the freaky floater phenomenon? Like most visual changes, it has to do with changes we go through as we age or unfortunate trauma to the head. At the very back of your eyes there’s a gel-like substance. The technical term is vitreous humor. When we’re born, this stuff is uniformly thick and transparent – think of clear gelatin.
But as we get older or if we get hit on the head, that transparency tends to change. Any unclear spots can create a shadow on the retina, which is the light and sight-sensing part of your eye. And it’s those shadows – whether shaped like a speck, blob or strand – that we see as a floater.
Annoying though they may be, floaters aren’t usually something to worry about. But listen to Dr. Ziskrout and resist the temptation to self-diagnose what’s going on. Call your eye doctor if you experience sudden onset of floaters, or changes to shape, size or frequency of them. Anything from bleeding in your eyes to a retinal tear or detachment could be to blame. Light flashes and blurred vision should also signal alarm. “These situations require immediate attention,” says Dr. Ziskrout. Seek an eye exam right away if any of these symptoms take shape.
Find Relief for Blurry, Red Swimmer's Eyes
Long days spent playing in the water are fun, but the end result can leave you with blurry, red eyes. Knowing some basics—like how pool water affects your eye health—could prevent irritated swimmer's eyes.
What's safer for your eyes—chlorine or saltwater?
Saltwater is a more natural approach and safer on skin, hair, and your eyes.
Pools sanitized with chlorine are generally safe and bacteria free. Chlorine mixes with organic matter and kills unhealthy bacteria. The downside is that it creates chemical compounds that can irritate skin and eyes.
Saltwater pools use salt to keep the pool clean rather than chlorine tablets or other chemicals. Chlorine is a byproduct of the salt, so very small amounts are present in saltwater sanitized pools. Saltwater pools are generally considered safer and gentler to your eyes and skin.
"Saltwater is a more natural approach and safer on skin, hair, and your eyes," says Arthur Kobayashi, OD, a VSP network doctor—and avid swimmer—on the North Shore of the Hawaiian Island, Oahu. "Eye irritation will be greatly reduced by swimming in saltwater." Keep in mind that chlorinated pools are safe, but may cause some people more irritation than others.
Can I swim with contacts?
Contact lens wearers beware! Dr. Kobayashi recommends wearing goggles if you want to open your eyes in pool water. He warns that, "The water could damage your lenses—they could change shape, rip, fold in your eye, or even get washed away." The possibility of bacteria contaminating your lenses and causing eye infections also exists.
Why do my eyes turn red?
"Red eyes occur when blood vessels near the surface of the eye become enlarged and dilated," explains Dr. Kobayashi. Increased exposure to irritants or chemicals may cause your eyes to become irritated. If you're prone to getting red eyes from swimming, you should always wear goggles in the pool.
How can I soothe my eyes?
If, after a long day at the pool, your once clear view of paradise becomes foggy and blurry, flush your eyes with a cool eye rinse or try saline eye drops for quick relief. A good tip is to add them to your list of must-haves for your beach bag this season!
Are your eyes irritated, red and itchy even when you haven’t gone swimming? You could have pink eye. Find out if your symptoms match those of the highly contagious infection.
A Brief Look at Correctable Vision Problems
Who wouldn’t love to have perfect vision? Being able to see whatever you want without glasses or contacts would be fantastic. Unfortunately, the amazing laser vision of Superman only occurs in comic books. Few people can see perfectly, and most of us experience at least one vision condition at some point during our lives.
Our eyes are incredibly complicated and even the slightest disruption in the lens, cornea, retina, or iris can drastically change your vision. The good news is that many vision conditions can be corrected through a comprehensive eye exam followed by the correct prescription for glasses or contact lenses. Below are some of the most common, correctable vision problems.
Usually Treatable with Prescription Glasses or Contacts:
Presbyopia: This age-related condition causes a decrease in the eye’s ability to sharply focus on nearby objects due to the hardening of the eye’s lens. Read Presbyopia: The 40-something Eyesight Challenge for more information.
Myopia: Commonly called “nearsightedness,” this vision condition results in seeing nearby objects clearly and faraway objects poorly.
Astigmatism: This visual impairment is the result of an irregular curvature in the eye. Instead of being shaped like a basketball, the eye is shaped more like a football. Astigmatism affects the way the eye processes light and results in varying degrees of blurred vision.
Hyperopia: Commonly called “farsightedness,” this vision condition results in seeing faraway objects clearly and nearby objects poorly.
May Need Treatment Beyond Prescription Lenses:
Amblyopia: Commonly called “lazy eye,” this condition surfaces at an early age and involves favoring one eye over the other. When this occurs, the neglected eye rarely develops like it should, and it appears “lazy” next to the properly functioning eye.
Strabismus: Most commonly referred to as “crossed eyes,” this occurs when the muscles that surround the eye don’t work well together. As a result, each eye can simultaneously look in different directions, sending two different images to the brain.
Color Deficiency: The main characteristic of this condition, typically called “colorblindness,” is an inability to discern certain colors. Confusing red and green is the most common type of colorblindness. Read Color "Blindness" Not Really Blindness At All for more information.
Nyctalopia: Nyctalopia, or “night blindness,” is the inability to see well in poorly lit areas. Those with nyctalopia often have trouble driving at night. Night blindness is not actually a disorder, but a symptom of other eye disorders, such as cataracts or nearsightedness.
Photophobia: Those with photophobia, also called “light sensitivity,” often experience symptoms like headaches and eye strain when exposed to direct or bright light. Similar to night blindness, photophobia is not an eye disease; it’s a symptom of underlying conditions such as inflammation of the eyes.