Eye Wellness

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, each year, nearly 25,000 Americans visit the emergency room due to a workplace eye injury. 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 away from work.

Primary causes of on-the-job eye injuries include:

  • Striking or scraping: Small particles or objects striking or scraping the eye, such as: dust, cement chips, metal slivers, and wood chips. Large objects may also strike the eye or face, or a worker may run into an object causing blunt-force trauma to the eyeball or eye socket.
  • Penetration: Objects like nails, staples, or slivers of wood or metal can go through the eyeball and result in a permanent loss of vision.
  • Chemical and thermal burns: Industrial chemicals or cleaning products are common causes of chemical burns to one or both eyes. Thermal burns to the eye also occur, often among welders.

Preventing Workplace Eye Injuries

  • Wear the appropriate safety glasses, goggles and face shields to protect your eyes and face.
  • Wear sunglasses when working outside to protect your eyes from the sunlight and UV rays.
  • Wash your hands after working and any time before touching your face.

We usually think of work-related eye injuries as being isolated to outdoor jobs such as construction work, landscaping or animal handling. Ironically, working in an office can be just as hazardous to your eyesight. The most common eye problem is computer vision syndrome. While consistently being on your computer will not permanently damage your vision, it can make your eyes feel irritated and fatigued.

Computer vision syndrome is not just a myth. Too much screen time and not enough breaks can cause headaches, inattentiveness, neck pain, back strain, and dry eye. Studies show that staring at a screen for extended periods of time lengthens the interval between blinks, preventing eyes from staying lubricated and moistened (Source: Eye Med).

There are some ways to prevent computer vision syndrome and keep your eyes feeling comfortable:

  • Reposition your screen. It should be 18-24 inches from your eyes. Adjust your screen to be at a right angle away from any direct light source. Invest in an anti-glare screen for your monitor to make computer work gentler on your eyes.
  • Remember the 20-20-20 rule. This rule reminds you that every 20 minutes, you should look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t forget to blink. While it may sound ridiculous, write yourself a note and place it on your monitor. Write “Blink Often” or any other message that will remind you to regularly close your eyes to keep them from getting dried out.
  • Use artificial tears. Over-the-counter eye drops can be extremely helpful in preventing dry eye and keeping your eyes comfortable.
  • Drink water. Adequate hydration can make a big difference, especially during the winter months when heaters and furnaces can make the air particularly dry.
  • Schedule regular comprehensive eye exams. Nothing can replace the importance of having an eye exam by a licensed ophthalmologist at regular intervals. If you have any concerns about your vision or experience any changes with your eyesight, do not delay in making an appointment.