Having good eyesight is essential for our everyday activities. It affects almost everything you do every day, yet somehow, this is easily taken for granted by many people. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that roughly 1.3 billion people across the globe suffer from visual disabilities or impairment. The good news is 80% of all eye-related injuries around the globe are avoidable!
What are the Industries and Work That’s High Risk for Eye Injuries?
- Construction & Maintenance (which include carpentry, welding, electrical work, etc.)
- Automotive Repair
Potential Eye Hazards at Work
Getting our eyes injured while working is quite common. In the US alone, there are about 2000 work-related eye injuries that happen every day. Why do people get their eyes injured during work? There are two main reasons: First, not wearing eye protection. Second, wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job. So how do we protect our eyes while working? Safety experts and doctors say that wearing or using the right eye protection gear will lessen the chances of injuries by as much as ninety percent (90%). Below are some of the most common potential eye hazards:
- Flying Particles, or any solid matter in the air, e.g., dust, cobbles & pebbles, wood, metal, etc.
- Bloodborne pathogens from blood and body fluids
- Splashes from chemicals and chemical fumes
- Radiation, i.e., ultraviolet radiation, infrared radiation, lasers, and heat
Another common eye problem at work is what we call the Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain. It results from the prolonged use of our computer and mobile phones. Recently, studies say that an average person in the US spends at least eleven (11) hours watching, listening, reading, and interacting with social media in a day.
How do we Protect Our Eyes in the Workplace?
Wearing the right eye protection gear is the key. Below are the different types of protective eye gear that you can wear whenever you’re at work.
- Safety glasses (Prescription & Non-prescription)
- Safety lenses
- Face shields and helmets.
- Special protection. (Helmets or goggles with special filters to protect the eyes from optical radiation exposure should be used for welding or working with lasers.)
Is it Safe to Wear Contact Lenses at Work?
Wearing contact lenses are very safe. But experts say that wearing them for a prolonged period, failing to clean them or not replacing them (as your doctor prescribed) is not advised.
Wearing contact lenses is also more comfortable (to some, but not for all). Compared to wearing eyeglasses, people who wear contact lenses have a wider field of vision. They also have less visual distortion. Also, wearing contact lenses improve the fit and comfort when using eye protection gear such as goggles and safety lenses. The best natural looking contact lens makes you look like as if you’re not wearing anything over your eye protection gear.
To be assured of your safety at work, it would be best to check the company’s safety policy regarding the wearing of contact lenses. Always check with your optometrist to determine if the contact lenses you’re wearing fits the job that you are doing.
What Should You Do During an Eye Emergency?
Once you have sustained an eye injury at work, seek medical attention ASAP. While waiting for the doctor, here are the steps and pointers you should take and remember:
- For workplaces dealing with chemicals:
- Flush your eye with water for at least fifteen minutes
- If you are wearing contact lenses, take them off first before flushing the eye with water
- Do not try to defuse or counteract the chemical with other substances present
- Do not wrap your eye with bandage yet
- For workplaces with flying particles:
- Do not rub your eyes with your hands
- If your eyes hurt, let your tears wash out the particle; flush the affected eye with artificial tear solution
- Try to remove the particle by lifting the upper eyelid in an outward direction, and then down towards the lower eyelid
- If the particle can’t be flushed, keep your eye closed and have it wrapped or bandaged lightly.
- Do not leave the eye untreated (especially for several days). If you are not sure that the particle is gone, see a doctor immediately
- If you sustained a blow to your eye:
- Apply a cold compress. Do it gently. It can reduce swelling and pain.
- If you are feeling intense pain or your vision is getting blurred, see a doctor immediately
- If you sustained cuts, nicks, and ruptures to your eye:
- Please do not attempt to remove the object stuck on your eye
- Cover/Protect the eye using makeshift protection, like the bottom half of a paper cup
- See a doctor immediately
Foods that are Good for Your Eyes
Here is a list of foods that’s good for your eyes. They are:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Salmon, Tuna, and other oily fish
- Nonmeat protein sources such as Eggs, Nuts, beans, etc.
Remember, eating a well-balanced diet of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E is the key!
The 20-20-20 Rule
Looking at a computer monitor for a long time at the office is not healthy for your eyes. To avoid what we call the “digital eye strain,” always remember this: take a 20-second break, every 20-minutes, and look at something 20 feet away.
Many workplaces have already included benefit packages for their employees for eye care. Employees who have eye care coverage miss fewer workdays! They are more productive. And most importantly, employees that usually undergo expensive medical procedures are reduced tremendously because of this scheme! Without this package, people usually wait over two (2) years in between eye exams.
Having good eyesight is beneficial not just for the employees themselves, but also for employers. As the popular quote say: A Happy Employee is a Productive Employee! And productive employees make employers even happier!
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