March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month. On-the-job safety goes well beyond avoiding slips, falls and heavy lifting. Caring for your eyes should be a high priority and part of an overall workplace wellness routine.
Workplace Eye Wellness
"Keeping eyes safe from harm in the workplace should always be a priority," said Dr. Lesley Olswing, an optometrist at McFarland Eye Center.
Each day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. Approximately 40 percent of on-the-job eye injuries happen in the fields of construction, manufacturing and mining.
"In many types of environments, safety glasses are the best way to ensure that the eyes are protected," said Dr. Olswing. Ninety percent of workplace eye injuries can be avoided by wearing eye protection, according to an article from Industrial Safety and Hygiene News.
Digital Eye Strain
Another common problem with eyes in the workplace is eye strain from sitting in front a computer monitor for long periods of time.
"Digital eye strain does not cause permanent damage to the eye," said Dr. Olswing, "but it can produce a large variety of symptoms ranging from red, tired eyes and intermittent blurry vision to head and neck aches."
Avoiding Eye Injury and Eye Strain
McFarland Eye Centers and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend these tips to avoid workplace eye injury or strain:
1) Wear protective eye wear
Ensure that your eye protection is appropriate for the type of hazard that may be present in your workplace, such flying debris, falling objects, chemicals, intense light and heat. Your eye wear must be American National Standards Institute ANSI-approved and OSHA compliant. You must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shield or helmet if you are near hazardous radiation welding, chemicals, lasers or fiber optics. Call your nearest McFarland Eye Center to learn more and to purchase protective eye wear.
2) Position your computer monitor 25 inches away
If you are working on a desktop computer, try placing the monitor at an arm’s length away from your face. You may need to adjust the font size to appear larger at that distance.
3) Follow the 20-20-20 rule
Eye strain and dry eye occur after long, continuous periods of viewing digital screens up close. To help alleviate this, take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Looking at a distance allows the focusing system to relax and your eyes to return to a regular rate of blinking, which helps lubricate your eyes with fluid that contains moisturizing elements including oil.
4) Reduce glare on your smartphone and digital screen
While many new phones and digital devices have glass screens with excellent picture quality, they also produce a strong glare that can aggravate the eyes. If you use a glass screen device, adjust the low light filter setting to lower screen brightness or use a matte filter to reduce eye strain.
5) Adjust environmental lighting at your work
If your computer screen is brighter than your office surroundings, your eyes need to work harder to see. You can reduce eye strain by adjusting the lighting in your surroundings.
Treatment of Eye Injuries
If an eye injury does occur, an individual should seek care from a McFarland Eye Center ophthalmologist or optometrist. If more immediate care is necessary, seek treatment at Urgent Care or an emergency room.
For more on workplace eye injuries and eye strain and how to avoid them, call your nearest McFarland Eye Center and read the information at these links: