What do you think of when we say “Eye Protection in the Workplace”? Clunky safety glasses with large side shields usually come to mind, however eye protection can be that and so much more. With increasing numbers of professionals using computers in the workplace, digital eye strain is giving the traditional thoughts of eye protection a whole new meaning. Industry approved safety glasses are still required by OSHA for many jobs but computer glasses, anti-glare and blue light blocking screens and coatings are taking the optical industry by storm, and not because they are trendy, but because the way we do business has rapidly evolved over the last 20 years.
With the number of computer users teetering around 3 billion worldwide in 2019, well over half of those are being used in the workplace or in schools. With increased access to information through the internet, we are spending more time staring at a screen for business and personal use than ever. But what does this mean for our eyes, are we doing more damage to them short and long term? While the jury is still out on the residual effects of increased blue light exposure, what we do know for sure is that eye strain, fatigue and dryness is at an all time high.
Digital Eye Strain:
Computer Vision Syndrome is one of the leading patient complaints in optometry and ophthalmology practiced throughout the US. Extended use of computers, tablets, smart phones and screens in general are the main culprit. Our blink rate reduces when we are focusing intently on a project, screen or book and this dries the eye out. Coupled with an old, outdated or even non-existent glasses prescription, scratched lenses or eye strain due to glare and we’ve created the perfect storm for C.V.S. to occur. So how do we combat these issues, reduce eye strain and discomfort and make our eyes happier? 20/20/20
In addition to the 20/20/20 Rule we also recommend:
OSHA approved safety eyewear is required for many occupations and when worn consistently and correctly can protect eyes from serious injury. Prescription safety glasses can be ordered through most workplaces and at independent optical dispensaries as well. Lens thickness, lens material, and side shield protection are all OSHA regulated in order to be considered safety grade eyewear. Failure to wear OSHA approved safety eyewear can jeopardize your sight and vision. Mechanics, carpenters, hospital staff and landscapers…safety eyewear is important to them all.
Wearing safety glasses can reduce foreign bodies imbedded in the cornea, chemical burn to the eyes and specialty masks for welding and grinding of metal can reduce flash burn and metal deposits in the eye. These types of injuries can be very painful and take a long time to heal if not treated right away. If you suspect that you have an eye injury, foreign body or flash burn, call to see your optometrist or ophthalmologist for an emergency visit immediately. For more information about OSHA requirements on safety eyewear visit: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.133 Eye Wash Station:
Many workplaces are equipped with an eyewash station, but how many employees know where it is located or even how to use it? Eye wash stations can be used incase of chemical burn to the eyes and to rinse out any foreign contaminants. They are simple to use and can save your eyesight. If you work in an environment where the use of an eye wash station may be required, be sure to know it’s location and be familiar with how to operate the version that is accessible to you. If no eyewash station is available, rinsing with water from a sink or bottled water may be the only option, so keep some on hand for such circumstances.
Eye health and protection is an important part of job function for many occupations. Make sure that you are prepared to take care of yourself and your eyes no matter what you do for a living. Vision is important not only to function in your job but in daily life in general. Be safe, wear eye protection, know what to do in an emergency, take visual breaks, see your optometrist or ophthalmologist for regular eye examinations and wear your most recent prescription for optimum visual clarity. Take care of your eyes and they will take care of you.