The Importance of Eye Protection
Updated: May 4
Eye related injuries are unfortunately a very common occurrence.
Hundreds of people every day are rushed in to hospital to be treated for damage to their eyes, either through an injury they sustained at work or through a DIY job at home.
There are even a few cases of serious damage caused by spending too much time working on digital devices. I often feel the tired eyes, blurry vision and headaches that come with Digital Eye Strain.
Fortunately, there is a wide selection of protective equipment that you can use to properly protect your eyes no matter what you are doing, even for those long days in the office working in front of a computer screen.
And you should be using it. Unfortunately, however, you don't need to go far to find a factory that has a least a couple of people who frequently 'forget' to wear their personal protective equipment. It happens all the time.
But your eyes are a vitally important part of your body and they happen to be particularly easy to damage.
If you have the full use of your eyes, why would you 'forget' to protect them?
Doing so, you risk more that just the loss of vision. Imagine all of a sudden not being able to see anything around you. Your whole life would be irreversibly changed in an instant.
What are the potential eye hazards?
If you work in an industrial factory, a car wash or are just doing DIY at home it's likely that the potential eye hazards will be similar and include;
Projectiles: These include small pieces of wood, metal, concrete or even dust. All of these projectiles are able to damage the surface of the eyeball either by scratching them or if they are large enough by actually puncturing the eye.
Chemicals: Most workplaces, even offices, have hazardous chemicals present that could damage the eyes either through fumes or splash-backs from a surface.
Radiation: We're all exposed to radiation at some point almost every day. Radiation hazards in relation to eye injuries include ultraviolet and infrared radiations, lasers and especially visible light. Like, for example, staring at your computer screen for 8 hours a day without taking a break.
Blood-borne illnesses: Being cut while working is often easily avoidable, but when it does happen and it's bad enough to draw blood and other bodily fluids, those fluids become a potenial eye hazard. If there is a spurt of those fluids, its very easy for them to enter your eyes and tear ducts, potentially infecting you with blood-borne disease.
What are the most common eye injuries?
From corneal abrasions to chemical burns these are the most common eye related injuries;
Swollen eyes: swollen eyes are generally caused by blunt force trauma to the area around the eyes.
Chemicals burns: Unexpected splashes or sprays entering your eyes can seriously damage the surface of the eye ball and cause long lasting damage to your vision.
Corneal abrasion: Or scratched eye. This is the most common type of eye injury and involves a small particle of something (dust, wood, etc) being rubbed across the eyeball causing a small scratch in the surface.
Penetrating objects: Similar to scratched eye in that there is a foreign object, often embedded in the cornea, causing damage to the eye. There are, however, larger penetrating objects that are able to fully puncture the eyeball causing serious damage.
How can you avoid eye injuries?
You already know the answer to this, but I'm going to say it again because there are still far too many people needlessly risking their eyes. Either because they don't know the dangers or they simply don't care.
Use eye protection. It's designed to help you keep your eyes.
Whether you work in a factory or have DIY building projects going on at home; eye protection is affordable and significantly reduces the risk of sustaining an eye injury.
But which eye protection do you need?
It's thought that 90% of all reported eye related injuries could have been avoided if the person was using the correct safety equipment.
There are several types of eye protection and they're all meant to provide a specific level of protection varying from basic eye protection to full face masks.
Full face masks: These offer full facial protection and will often be used alongside safety glasses or googles to further protect the whole face from projectiles and chemical splashes.
Special filters: Safety glasses or goggles fitted with filters that are used to protect against certain lights or radiation. Blue light from a computer screen, for example.
Goggles: Googles are a common piece of eye protective gear and offer fully enclosed eye protection. They are often used alongside regular safety glasses to further protect the eyes from projectiles and chemical burns.
Prescribed safety glasses: Prescription safety glasses are very similar to regular safety glasses, only they're fitted with reinforced correcting lenses and shields at the sides to further protect the eyes from projectiles.
Regular safety glasses: Used in almost all workplaces that aren't offices, the regular safety glasses are meant to protect your eyes from projectiles. They are fitted with reinforce lenses and frames and are designed not to shatter when they sustain an impact.
What to do in the event of an eye injury
If you sustain an eye injury it's important that you immediately contact your doctor or an eye care specialist to assess the injury. Many eye specialists have after-hours phone numbers if your sustain an injury outside of normal work hours.
If you would like to learn how to spot the hazards that could damage your eyes, or those of your co-workers, you can take the new COSHH Risk Assessor Certification™. I will teach you how to identify the hazards and which control measures you should be using to ensure that your eyes remain undamaged.
Your eyes are an incredibly important part of your life. Protect them.