Eye health is important in every workplace – even in home offices, where many workers now spend their days during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each day, about 2,000 workers in the United States suffer a job-related eye injury that requires medical care. More than 100 of these injuries result in one or more days away from work. Some of these injuries can cause serious damage to the eye with the potential to cause temporary or even permanent eye damage.
Eyes are complex organs that are vulnerable to a variety of injuries. The most common workplace injuries involve:
Striking or scraping – Blunt-force trauma (striking) can occur when large objects hit the eyeball or eye socket; scraping can occur when dust, cement chips, metal slivers, wood chips or small particles scratch the surface of the eye
Penetration – Nails, staples, slivers of wood, or other objects go through the eyeball; these injuries can cause permanent loss of vision
Chemical and thermal burns – Caused by industrial chemicals or cleaning products; thermal burns to the eye also occur, particularly among welders
While most people associate workplace eye injuries with factory or construction jobs, eye injuries can also happen to office workers. These workers are at higher risk for other types of eye injuries such as computer vision syndrome. While being on the computer for hours at a time will not cause permanent vision problems, it can make your eyes feel tired and irritated.
Look Twice at Workplace Eye Wellness Month
Many people are aware that eye injuries can occur at the workplace, but they become so involved in getting their work done that they don’t really think about eye safety as much as they should. Others may be unaware that certain working conditions can affect their eye health over a lifetime. Held every March, Workplace Eye Wellness Month creates a great opportunity to learn about keeping eyes healthy and injury-free throughout the workday.
The volunteer eye health and safety group, Prevent Blindness, declared March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month as a way to give employers and workers free information on ways to keep vision healthy while on the job. Information may include the correct use of eye protection, including safety frames, ways to avoid computer vision syndrome while working in the office, and routine eye care.
For more information about Workplace Eye Wellness Month, talk to the eye health professionals at Illinois Eye Center.