Work-related eye injuries are on the rise, though with proper preventative measures taken, they really shouldn’t be. Our eye doctors see patients of all ages with eye injuries, and often these injuries could have been prevented by wearing the right eye protection and knowing what to do if you are injured. This article will introduce our patients to the concept of eye safety while at work, and explain what to do in the case of an eye-related work injury.
Jobs with high eye injury risk include construction, plumbing, welding, wood working, and manufacturing. Injuries include projectiles, radiation, and chemical spills and fumes. Among the most common injuries are chemical burns, foreign objects in the eye, and radiation burns (such as those from welding arcs). These steps will help prevent an eye-related injury:
- Know the risks of your workplace and be aware of possible hazards. Annual comprehensive eye and vision examinations are more than just glasses exams, they are an opportunity for our eye doctors to educate patients on the importance of eye protection. Preventing an injury can be as easy as just identifying risk factors.
- Use eye protection when working with hazardous machines, in hazardous environments, and when handling spillable chemicals. Our opticians can suggest many different types of eye protection including prescription safety lenses for home projects and workplace use.
- Know what to do when you are injured.
If you get something in your eye, it is important not to rub your eye. Rubbing the eye can cause scratches to the most sensitive part of your eye, the cornea, and in extreme cases can cause scarring. Try irrigating the eye with clean hands and a saline or artificial tear solution. Keep the eye closed, and seek medical care. Vista Eye Care is available during regular business hours for emergency eye care. Often times, simply using a topical anesthetic and removing the particle is all that is required. Sometimes an antibiotic drop will be prescribed if the particle carried with it an infection risk. If you are injured after hours, go to the emergency room.
Chemicals in the eye require a slightly different approach. Should you get chemical substances in your eye, irrigate the eye with water continuously for 15 minutes. If you are wearing a contact lens, be sure to carefully remove or wash the contact lens out of your eye. The contact lens may have soaked up some of the chemicals and will only cause more harm if left in your eye. Seek immediate medical care. If you are injured after hours, go to the emergency room.
It is important to wear protection when welding as well. Welding arcs spit out a variety of harmful radiation from across the electromagnetic spectrum that can injure the front of the eyes, contribute to cataract formation, and even cause oxidation of retinal tissues and thus permanent damage to your vision. For the same reasons that a patient should never stare at the sun, you should never stare into a welding arc unprotected. Radiation burns can be a painful reminder that this harmful radiation, while not easily seen, is indeed capable of damaging the eyes. Seek immediate medical care if you are injured by radiation. If you are injured after hours, go to the emergency room.
Vista Eye Care offers a variety of protective eyewear for all different occupations. Safety glasses include prescription and plano (i.e. no prescription) goggles, glasses, and side shields. Our latest glasses are both stylish and protective. Our optometrists are available to help those with injured eyes, and we encourage our patients to contact us immediately if they suffer an eye injury.