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Department of Family Medicine

Eye Protection

DO YOU KNOW?

  • 80% of a person's daily activities depend upon good vision.
  • No one is immune to unexpected eye trauma on the job, in the home or during recreation.
  • Over 1,000 work-related eye injuries occur every day in the U.S. 65% of all eye injuries are caused by flying objects; 58% of the foreign bodies are smaller than 0.5mm in diameter.
  • Research shows that eye injury in farm or rural areas, compared to urban areas, carry an excess risk of losing eyesight due to infection by antibiotic-resistant soil microbes.
  • Physicians treating rural eye injuries should be more aggressive with antibiotic selection and dosage than with the usual urban eye injury.
  • Research suggests that almost 100% of traumatic eye injuries could have been prevented by appropriate eyewear and simple precautions.

Great strides have been made in ophthalmology but there are limits to what can be done for certain types of irreversible eye damage. The best therapy for eye trauma remains prevention!

USE THE CORRECT EYEWEAR PROTECTOR FOR THE HAZARD*
CHEMICAL: Wear cover or eyecup goggles to protect against splashes and fumes. Use a face shield for severe exposures. Contact lens users should be especially cautious because the lenses may trap chemicals and their vapors.
IMPACT: Flying particles from chain saws, grinders, chippers, sanders and many other farm, industrial, home and garden tools can pose serious eye hazards. Always wear safety spectacles or goggles, and use a face shield for severe exposure.
DUST: Wear cover or eyecup goggles to protect the eyes from dust while working in dusty conditions.
OPTICAL RADIATION: Arc welding - welding helmet with 10-14 filter shade; gas welding - welding goggles or face shield with 4-8 filter; cutting - welding goggles or face shield with 3-6 filter; torch brazing - welding goggles or face shield with 3-4 filter; torch soldering - safety spectacles with tinted lenses or welding face shield.
*AMERICAN NATIONAL STANDARD Z87.1-1989

WHAT TO DO IF AN EYE INJURY OCCURS

Despite protection from various portions of the skull and eyelid (blink mechanism), the eye remains vulnerable to several mechanisms of trauma including chemical injury, lacerations, abrasions and penetrating injury, foreign material injury, and UV radiation (welding burn).

-- CHEMICAL INJURIES require prompt and thorough irrigation. Injuries resulting from acidic or alkaline material should be irrigated for at least 15 minutes with saline or water. Prompt evaluation by an ophthalmologist is necessary to determine the extent of the injury and subsequent management. If at all possible the chemical should be identified to, or brought to, the ophthalmologist.
-- LACERATIONS and penetrating injuries of the eye require prompt attention by the ophthalmologist. The eye should not be manipulated in any way and should be protected with glasses or a shield until evaluation is possible.
-- FOREIGN MATERIAL may be irrigated from the eye; however, foreign bodies that are imbedded in the cornea require removal by an ophthalmologist.
-- BLUNT TRAUMA that results in persistent redness, sensitivity to sunlight, ocular discharge, reduced vision or pain requires evaluation by an ophthalmologist to minimize damage.
-- INSECT STINGS of the eyelid or eyeball are uncommon but may result in intense discomfort and swelling. They require a detailed evaluation by an ophthalmologist. Simple mosquito bites of the eyelid usually respond to frequent cool compresses and antihistamines.

PREVENTION OF EYE INJURY

  • Each of us must take responsibility for eye safety. Attention to potential accidents, work habits, appropriate tools, adequate lighting and protective eyewear needs to be considered part of the task.
  • No one else can take full responsibility for eye safety.
  • Each task presents a challenge to your eye safety, protective eyewear and work habits.
  • A single task may result in exposure to several different eye hazards.
  • Choose eye wear that protects for the greatest hazard.
  • Eye safety must be followed on and off the job.
  • Be prepared with emergency first aid.
  • Know in advance where to get the best medical eye care.
  • Teach by example. Show your co-workers and family that you take eye safety seriously.
  • Eyewear can be purchased from safety supply companies, hardware stores and equipment dealers.  

 EYE INJURY WARNING

  • Do not self-medicate to relieve or mask pain, inflammation or infection.
  • Topical anesthetics should never be self administered.
  • Topical anesthetics should only be used by a physician in a single-dose fashion.

 

 
 
 

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