How to Prevent Workplace Eye Injuries

Eye injuries can happen at work or home in an instant. Often, eye injuries result from an unexpected squirt of a chemical, a cinder in the air, or a sliver that splinters off during a construction project. Here’s how to prevent workplace eye injuries.

Know nine facts

Consider these eye injury statistics in the United States:

  1. Each year, over 2 million people experience eye injuries.
  2. More than 40,000 eye injuries result in permanent visual impairment.
  3. About 50% of eye injuries occur at work.
  4. The other 50% occur during home repair projects, yard work, cleaning or cooking.
  5. Each year, over 100,000 eye injuries happen during sports or recreational activities.
  6. Every 13 minutes a sports-related eye injury is treated in a hospital emergency department or urgent care center.
  7. Paintball, a recreational activity enjoyed by over 10 million people, often leads to eye injuries. Although participants must wear protective eyewear, serious eye injuries still occur. These include a ruptured eyeball, detached retina or an injury that leads to permanent vision loss.
  8. Common types of eye injuries are abrasions, lacerations or irritations.
  9. Nearly 90% of eye injuries are preventable. Plan ahead and use proper safety eyewear. Always take precautions to avoid possible unsafe situations.

Wear safety eyewear (glasses, goggles, face shields, helmets)

Research shows that about 60% of people who injure their eyes at work were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Or, they were using the wrong kind of protective eyewear for that activity. Follow these tips to ensure you wear the right protective eyewear and prevent workplace eye injuries:

  1. Read the label – To reduce the risk of eye injury, wear safety glasses with the Z87 label on the lens or frame. This mark indicates that the glasses meet standards set by the American National Standards Institute for safety glasses, goggles, face shields, welding goggles or sunglasses.
  2. Get the proper fit – The eyewear frame should fit properly around the eyes to prevent chemicals or particles from slipping under the edges.
  3. Buy the right product – Approved safety glasses are made from plastic, Trivex™, or polycarbonate materials. Research shows that polycarbonate lenses provide the highest level of protection.
  4. Use them correctly – Use a face shield or helmet when welding or working with hot liquids. Wear safety glasses or goggles underneath to ensure your eyes are protected when taking off the shield or helmet.

Be proactive in protecting your eyes by following these eye safety tips! Remember that before engaging in activities, think about the appropriate protective eyewear you may need. If you’re not sure, bring along what you might need just in case. This is vital to prevent workplace eye injuries.

Watch for vision problems

The American Academy of Ophthalmology says several other vision problems can cause eye injuries. If you experience flashes of light, floaters, or excessive watering or dryness, visit an eye care professional.

Eye doctors recommend that adults should have a baseline comprehensive eye exam by age 40, even if they don’t have a vision problem. After that, they should schedule annual exams as directed by the eye doctor.

Learn about seven ways you can take better care of your eyes.

Look into vision coverage

Most insurance plans cover the cost of a preventive vision exam. Many also pay a portion of the cost for prescription safety glasses. Often, employers pay the balance of the cost not covered by insurance.

In addition, employers may provide certified nonprescription safety glasses and eyewear or reimburse employees who purchase them for work.

Remember eye safety for kids

Don’t forget to take care of kids’ eyes, too. Many kids today experience blurry, dry eyes. Eye doctors believe the cause may be too much screen time. Learn six things to know about kids’ vision problems.