Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month

Each day, more than 2,000 American workers suffer an eye injury, and nearly 1 million Americans have lost some of their sight due to an eye injury, according to Prevent Blindness America (PBA). These injuries have resulted in more than $300 million in lost time, medical expenses and worker compensation, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). To help reduce this number, PBA has designated March as Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month.

The Importance of Safety Eyewear

One of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce workplace eye injuries is to wear proper safety glasses. In fact, PBA estimates that 90% of workplace eye injuries could be avoided if safety eyewear is used effectively. Nearly three out of five people suffering eye injuries at work were wearing no protection at all, according to a BLS survey.

Safety eyewear varies depending upon the type of work being done. The general rule is that anyone passing through a work site don safety eyewear to avoid injuries caused by flying objects, tools, particles and other hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to ensure workers have suitable eye protection. All eye protection should be certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as ANSI Z87.

The Risk of Infection

Certain fields of work carry the risk of eye infection. Workers in health care, laboratory, janitorial or animal handling environments need to consider special eye protection to reduce the risk of exposure to both minor and major illnesses via the eye.

Office Workers Not Immune

Even employees in relatively innocuous environments can suffer eye problems. The most common of these conditions is computer vision syndrome. While computer screens do not permanently damage vision, they can cause headaches, eye fatigue and difficulty focusing. Simple fixes for computer eye syndrome include taking more frequent rest breaks and repositioning the computer screen so it is at eye level.

Another ailment incurred by office workers is dry eye syndrome, when the eyes do not produce enough tears to keep the eye comfortable, often because of heating and air conditioning systems in office buildings. Over-the-counter drops and proper hydration can help.

Annual Eye Exams Key to Prevention

One of the most important steps employees can take to preserve their eyesight is have their eyes examined annually (or at the frequency recommended by their doctor). Eye exams will help evaluate potential unseen injuries to the eye, as well as look for signs of serious eye conditions like glaucoma and cataracts.

For more information about Workplace Eye Health & Safety Month, visit Prevent Blindness America.