Whether you work in an office, a home, or outdoors as a contractor, the common thread is a risk of eye injury. Some professions obviously have more inherent risk than others, but it never hurts to know the common causes of injury in your profession so you know how to adequately protect yourself.
Did you know that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that every day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment? That number alone is crazy, but what’s even more surprising is that experts believe 90 percent of those injuries could have been prevented if proper safety precautions had been adhered to. So, while eye safety is admittedly pretty boring it turns out it's also pretty important. No this isn’t a “scare you into buying more readers” article but things out of sight are often out of mind. So, read on for some tips to make sure you aren’t part of the unlucky 2000.
If you’re working in an office, chances are you’re sitting in front of a computer the majority of your day. According to The Vision Council, 60 percent of people that work with computers report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain. Symptoms may include dry and irritated eyes, headaches, and blurred vision. These symptoms sound less fun than sitting through a day-long workplace safety seminar, so let’s learn how we can protect our eyes in an office environment.
- Place your screen 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and a little bit below eye level.
- Place a document holder next to your screen so you don’t have to swing your head back and forth or constantly change your eye focus.
- Change your computer’s light settings or use a glare filter over your screen to lower the glare and harsh reflections.
- Get a chair you can adjust so that you are sitting with the monitor directly in front of you, a few inches above your eye level.
- Choose a screen(s) that can tilt and swivel.
- Wear Computer glasses with anti-reflective lenses while using digital devices. They will help block blue light and reduce glare which will help ease digital eye strain by increasing contrast.
If you’re working in industrial settings, the type of safety eye protection worn depends on the potential hazards in the workplace.
- Safety Glasses – Should be used when exposed to flying particles, objects, or dust. The best safety glasses have side shields for additional protection and are made of polycarbonate.
- Safety Goggles – Should be used when working with chemicals. Safety goggles provide a secure shield around the entire eye to protect against hazards that may come from any direction.
- Face Shields – Should be used when working with chemicals, heat, or blood-borne pathogens. Face shields shouldn’t be used alone, they should be used along with safety glasses or goggles, so the eyes are protected even when the shield is lifted.
- Helmets – Should be used by welders or people working with molten materials. Helmets also shouldn’t be used alone, they should be used along with safety glasses or goggles.
It can be so easy to take eyesight for granted and brush off safety measures as unnecessary or too much work but the potential outcomes are always worse than the time or investment. Remember that 90% of all work-related eye injuries could have been prevented. Glasses, goggles and prescriptions will always be cheaper and less time consuming than ER visits. So, before you head into work, take that extra minute or two to grab your eye protection so you can see clearly for many years to come.