Eye Topic of the Month
October is Eye Injury Prevention Month
Each day about 2000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. About one third of the injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments and more than 100 of these injuries result in one or more days of lost work. The majority of these injuries result from small particles or objects striking or abrading the eye. Examples include metal slivers, wood chips, dust, and cement chips that are ejected by tools, wind blown, or fall from above a worker. Some of these objects, such as nails, staples, or slivers of wood or metal penetrate the eyeball and result in a permanent loss of vision. Large objects may also strike the eye/face, or a worker may run into an object causing blunt force trauma to the eyeball or eye socket. Chemical burns to one or both eyes from splashes of industrial chemicals or cleaning products are common. Thermal burns to the eye occur as well. Among welders, their assistants, and nearby workers, UV radiation burns (welder’s flash) routinely damage workers’ eyes and surrounding tissue.
In addition to common eye injuries, health care workers, laboratory staff, janitorial workers, animal handlers, and other workers may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases via ocular exposure. Infectious diseases can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eye as a result of direct exposure (e.g., blood splashes, respiratory droplets generated during coughing or suctioning) or from touching the eyes with contaminated fingers or other objects. The infections may result in relatively minor conjunctivitis or reddening/soreness of the eye or in a life threatening disease such as HIV, B virus, or possibly even avian influenza.
Engineering controls should be used to reduce eye injuries and to protect against ocular infection exposures. Personal protective eyewear, such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses, or full face respirators must also be used when an eye hazard exists. The eye protection chosen for specific work situations depends upon the nature and extent of the hazard, the circumstances of exposure, other protective equipment used, and personal vision needs. Eye protection should be fit to an individual or adjustable to provide appropriate coverage. It should be comfortable and allow for sufficient peripheral vision. Selection of protective eyewear appropriate for a given task should be made based on a hazard assessment of each activity, including regulatory requirements when applicable.
NIOSH Eye Safety Resources
A five point checklist of good eye safety practices with printable flyer.
Provides an overview of eye hazards and injuries, plus information on types of eye protection, safety for prescription lens wearers, and first aid.
Provides background information and specific details on eye protection used to supplement eye protection recommendations provided in current CDC infection control guidance documents. It is intended to familiarize workers with the various types of eye protection available, their characteristics, and their applicable use.
NOTE: This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (07/29/2013). Eye Safety. (Online), 09/30/2014.
What Kind of Eyewear Can I Use to Protect My Eyes?
Every home should have at least one pair of safety glasses or goggles made from lightweight polycarbonate plastic, says NEI ophthalmologist Dr. Rachel Bishop. Most hardware and home improvement stores sell this type of glasses.
To make sure yours meet the safety standards of the American National Standards Institute, look for "ANSI Z87.1" stamped on one of the arms. Such high-quality eye protection will "stop a golf ball traveling at 90 miles per hour," Dr. Bishop says.
She recommends that people wear eye protection not only in hazardous workplace environments, but also while working around the house with machines, chemicals or tools. Nearly half of the more than 2.5 million eye injuries that occur in the U.S. every year happen at home, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology's 2009 Eye Injury Snapshot.
"I have seen many patients who have injured their eyes while mowing the lawn or weed-whacking," she says.
In addition, Dr. Bishop urges every athlete to wear eye protection, as about 40,000 sports-related eye injuries occur each year. Eye protection for athletes will have "ASTM F803" stamped on the arm if it meets the sports-specific safety standards.
She also recommends that everyone wear sunglasses, which block the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Sunglasses are especially important in situations where glare is a problem, such as while water or snow skiing.
"Any time you feel the need to squint, you should have sunglasses on," she advises.
And adults aren't the only ones who need to protect their eyes from injury and ultraviolet light. "Your children should wear safety glasses and sunglasses too," she adds.
Source: National Eye Institute (10/2009). What kind of eyewear can I use to protect my eyes? (Online), 09/30/2014.