It happens hundreds of times a day–a worker in the U.S. suffers an eye injury while on the job. At more than 20,000 occurrences each year, work-related eye injuries account for up to $300 million annually in lost productivity, treatment and worker compensation, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“As Ben Franklin once said, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’” says Dr. Ben Pace, ophthalmologist with Hattiesburg Eye Clinic. “Adhering to safety guidelines and wearing eye protection appropriate to the task goes a long way toward avoiding a costly work-related eye injury.”
March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Eye care providers across the country, including Dr. Pace and his fellow physicians at Hattiesburg Eye, are calling attention to on-the-job dangers to the eyes and how to prevent injury.
Work-related eye injuries occur in various ways, but the causes roughly fall into four main categories: flying or falling objects; tools and equipment; chemicals; or particles and sparks. Of the four, Dr. Pace says the latter accounts for most of the injuries he sees.
“The most common injuries I encounter are caused by bits of metal or glass thrown off during grinding or cutting operations. Although rarer, we do see injuries caused by larger objects as on my first day with the clinic when I treated a patient with an impaled nail in the eye from a nail gun.”
To avoid injury, Dr. Pace and Hattiesburg Eye advises workers to follow all employer safety guidelines, especially regarding the eyes. They should also identify and minimize eye hazards by using machine guarding, work screens or similar measures.
And, above all else, workers should wear eye protection appropriate to the job. “It’s important to wear goggles or safety glasses around any machinery, chemicals or similar hazards, “says Dr. Pace. “Eyewear should be clean and clear of any scratches or other defects that might interfere with clear vision.”
“If you experience an eye injury, you should seek prompt medical treatment and not wait. This is especially true with metal or glass getting into the eye–the earlier it’s treated, the lower the risk of infection or other complications. Otherwise, you could be risking some level of permanent visual impairment.”
It’s not always possible to eliminate every potential eye hazard on the job. But by following these common sense precautions–and getting treatment for an injury as soon as possible–you can keep those risks to a minimum and protect your eyesight.
Hattiesburg Eye Clinic Optical has a selection of quality safety glasses including styles by Wiley X, Rio Ray and Armourx.
For more about eye and vision care, visit us at HattiesburgEyeClinic.com. To learn more about how Hattiesburg Eye Clinic can improve your vision health, call (601) 268-5910 or schedule a consultation with us