Workplace Eye Wellness Month

Caution - Safety Glasses RequiredIn order to prevent the over 25,000 eye injuries occurring each year, eye safety must be a daily priority in the workplace. To help in that prevention effort, Prevent Blindness America has declared March to be Workplace Eye Wellness Month as a way to reemphasize the importance of keeping eyes safe while at work.

To that end, let’s look at ways to promote eye wellness in the workplace and thus help reduce the number of eye injuries on the job.

  1. Wear proper eye protection. About 90% of eye injuries in the workplace can be prevented through the wearing of proper eye protection. Do this by first knowing what’s available and then by choosing the best option for your situation.
  2. Follow employer guidelines. OSHA requirements provide clear guidelines for employers, and Promoting Workplace Safety is essential to eye injury prevention. Yet, none of these guidelines and programs matter if individuals fail to follow them.
  3. Keep eye protection clean & clear. Make sure you have Good Habits for Safety Glass Maintenance to help ensure your eye protection is working optimally at all times.
  4. Give your eyes a break. Managing Electronic Display Eye Strain will go a long way in keeping eyes healthy and strong as well as prevent long-term and possibly permanent damage to eyes.
  5. Establish habits. While your employer may and hopefully does have a workplace eye safety program, the health of the eyes is ultimately up to the individual. For this reason, be sure to understand the Importance of Good Eye Safety Habits.

For those wanting to take eye wellness a step further, Prevent Blindness America offers several options including vision screening programs and educational resources.

While not all injuries in the workplace can be prevented, a lot can be done to greatly reduce not only the number of injuries sustained but also the severity of the injuries that do take place. If an eye injury does take place, promote a return to eye wellness by doing the following BEFORE you need to know what to do.

  1. Know what to do when an injury happens. We must all ask the question, “Do you know what to do?” when an eye injury occurs. Take steps to make sure the answer to that question is “Yes!” before you need to know.
  2. Understand the most common causes of injury. Knowing the Most Common Types of Eye Injuries can not only help prevent them, but it can also help in knowing what to do when they happen.

First and foremost, wear eye protection and wear the right eye protection to make sure eyes remain healthy while at work. After that, take steps to educate yourself. Learn the steps for preventing eye injury, and learn what to do when an eye injury happens. Taking these steps will help to ensure that workplace eye wellness is a way of life and not just a once-a-year focus.

Eye Injury by Age Group

Eye InjuryProjectile objects and flying debris represent about 18% of all reported eye injuries, with blunt object injuries making up just over 13% of injuries. In third place comes injury caused by fingers, fists and other body parts (10%). And in fourth place at about 9% is injury from sharp objects such as a fishhook or glass shard.

In case you weren’t counting, we’ve just accounted for 50% of all reported injuries. The remaining 50% comes from a variety of causes including sports equipment, automobile airbags, paintballs, bb guns, pellet guns, furniture, household chemicals, firearms, and fireworks.

As reported in Who Is At Risk for Greatest Eye Injury? almost half of the 2.5 million eye injuries reported annually occur in individuals ages 18-45. Many of the same type of injuries, primarily the ones listed above, occur as much in the over-45 age group as in the 18-45 age group. But, less injuries occur overall in the older group probably due to increased caution and decreased activity and risk that usually accompanies aging.

The second largest age group (25%) receiving the most eye injuries are children. Even more specifically, older teens and young adults in their late twenties present the highest numbers of eye injuries. Of the total number of injuries, 73% of them are received by males.

While older teens and young adults represent the highest number, no one remains exempt from receiving an eye injury. The article Children Need Eye Protection Too details the hazards facing young children with regard to eye injury as well as gives measures for preventing injury in the first place.

So that leaves one group yet to cover with regard to risk for eye injury… the elderly. In this age group, falls cause the most eye injuries. More specifically, loss of balance resulting in falls.

Preventing injuries caused from falls starts with a visit to the doctor to address any health issues. Then, make sure an individual’s home provides sturdy support structures for moving about and that paths for everyday activities are safe and clear.

While we know that 90% of all eye injuries can be prevented using protective eyewear and that every home should have at least one pair of safety glasses, we need to realize that eye injury prevention also comes through making the environment itself safer as well.

This means realizing that most eye injuries take place at home and then doing what we can to prevent eye injuries in the home. This also means making sure the age of individuals in a home is taken into consideration and appropriate measures follow based on that information, especially when young children or the elderly are involved.

5 Most Common Types of Eye Injuries

In the United States, over 2.5 million eye injuries happen every year with 50,000 people actually losing at least part of their vision as a result. Of that 2.5 million, almost 18% are caused by projectile objects, 13% by blunt objects, 10% by body parts (fingers, elbows, fists, etc.), and 9% by sharp objects.

Of the millions of eye injuries that take place each year, almost half of them (44%) occur in the home and 40% during sport activities. The remaining 16% is taken up by miscellaneous injuries and work-related injuries.

So, regardless of location and how the injury happens, what types of injuries happen most frequently? The following are the 5 most common.

  1. Scratched Eye. Most commonly, an eye becomes scratched when a foreign body enters it and the individual then rubs the eye in an attempt to remove the irritation. Eyes also become scratched when they are poked by a foreign body. A scratched eye can become serious very quickly, with a fungal infection for example, so seeing a doctor if there is noEye Protection improvement in a day or two is crucial. In addition, a scratched eye can be worse for individuals who wear contacts.
  2. Chemical Burn. This type of injury can happen when a chemical is splashed into the eye or transferred from an individual’s hands. Fumes and vapors can also cause chemical burn to eyes. Finding out the type of chemical, acid or alkali, is crucial since one (acid) can be washed out more easily than the other (alkali). If eyes become red or blurry or do not improve after 24 hours, see a doctor.
  3. Flash Burn. Burns to the eyes also can come from sources such as sunlight, welding, tanning booths and sunlamps. Protecting eyes against sunburn, Yes, Your Eyes Can Get a Sunburn, and taking precaution in welding and other situations is key to preventing flash burns.
  4. Foreign Object in Eye. An object in the eye often leads to a scratched eye (see #1 above), and can be caused even just by an eyelash, dust, contacts and makeup. While time and eye flushing can remove these objects, when a foreign object, such as a fish hook, actually penetrates the eye, self removal is not a good idea. Instead, getting to a doctor right away is important.
  5. Blow to the Eye. These types of injuries happen often in sports, and the result is usually a swollen, black and blue eye. It’s important to check for additional injury, such as a broken eye socket or internal damage, when a blow to the eye occurs.

Perhaps the most startling fact regarding eye injuries, regardless of type and cause, is that 90% of ALL eye injuries could be prevented by wearing protective eyewear. Yet, only 50% of people wear them when working around the house, which is the most likely place to receive an eye injury.

The second factor crucial in preventing permanent eye damage and vision loss is knowing what to do, and sometimes more importantly what NOT to do, if injury does occur.

The following resource list will help you take these two crucial steps, wearing protective eye wear and being prepared if injury does occur.

Take Time to Focus on Eye Health & Safety

Fishing: A Dangerous Sport?

How to Remember to Wear Sunglasses

UV Protection – Eliminating Excuses

Be Eye Safety Conscious: 5 Ways To Prevent Common Eye Irritations

Basic Welding Safety

Eye Emergencies: Do You Know What to Do?

Eye Injuries Can Occur at Any Time and in Any Place

Importance of Good Eye Safety Habits

Safety Eyewear and Emergency Eyewash: Prevention and Preparation Matter

Safety Eyewear in the Kitchen: For Adventurous Chefs to Everyday Cooks