Eye Safety

1705 Park Street ●  Regina, SK.  ●  S4N 2G3

Phone: 306-719-2020 ●  Fax: 306-719-2021

WORKPLACE EYE WELLNESS BLOG

March is National Workplace Eye Wellness Month

 

When it comes to vision loss and eye damage, prevention is of the utmost importance.  The month of March is dedicated to the awareness of eye safety in the workplace.  This includes wearing the appropriate protective equipment when operating machinery and using tools as well as the importance of preventing eye strain from working on the computer.  We use our eyes in a variety of different environments and it is important to always make sure we are taking care of them! 

 

Why eye protection?

 

The importance of protective eye wear cannot be emphasized enough.  In particular, the eye is susceptible to projectile objects (saw dust, metal particles, etc.), tools, chemicals and UV radiation.  It is very important to have the correct protective eye wear for the job.  For example, a carpenter would require different protective eye wear than a welder.  Most companies will have recommendations and coverage for the appropriate eye wear.

 

The front surface of the eye, called the cornea, is particularly susceptible to particles in the environment and UV radiation.  Any damage to the cornea is extremely painful and can be sight threatening.  Thus, any eye injuries should be treated promptly by a doctor.

 

Any penetrating injuries (often from projectile or metal on metal hammering) can also pose a risk to the retina, which is tissue inside the eye.  Additionally, a penetrating injury can substantially increase the risk of infection and losing the eye.

What to do in case of injury

 

If you ever have an injury to the eye, it is extremely important to seek immediate medical attention.  In the case of a foreign body in the eye, seeing a doctor of optometry is important to have particle removed.  In particular, metal can start to form a "rust ring" in the eye.  Additionally, when the front surface of the eye is damaged, you are at an increased risk of infection.

 

Should you ever get chemical in the eye, wash your eye out very well at an eye wash station and see a doctor immediately.  It is important to ensure the pH of the eye is at the normal level or damage can continue to occur even if it seems that all of the chemical is rinsed out.

 

Your doctor of optometry may recommend that you have your eyes dilated if you have an eye emergency.  Dilation is the standard of care when it comes to monitoring ocular health.  The reason is that examining the eye through a dilated pupil gives the doctor the best view inside the eye.  Therefore, it allows your doctor to make sure everything is healthy, especially if a penetrating injury is suspected.

 

When you receive a dilated eye exam, you can expect some visual changes that last about 2 hours.  First, because the pupil is dilated, it can make you more light sensitive so wearing sunglasses, especially on very sunny days, is recommended.  Additionally, the dilation drops relax the muscles responsible for your focusing system so vision can be blurry, especially near vision.

Eye Strain

 

In this day and age of technology and our digital world, it is fitting to mention the eye strain caused by working on the computer.  The prevention of eye strain with computer use can help increase comfort throughout the day and increase productivity.

 

Staring at the computer screen all day forces the eyes to focus and keep the image clear.  Thus, it is important to take breaks throughout the day and look up and away from the computer screen to relax your eye's focusing system.  It may take a few seconds for your vision to clear up, which is a sign your eyes are fatigued.  Eye fatigue does not cause permanent damage to the eye but can result in headaches.  If you are experiencing any problems or headaches, it is important to mention this to your doctor of optometry.  Sometimes reading glasses or office-use glasses are prescribed to help reduce the strain.

 

Also, working on a computer all day reduces the eye's blink reflex.  Therefore, eyes may become dry and uncomfortable resulting in irritation, itchiness, burning or tearing.  The best way to prevent these symptoms from occurring is to use artificial tears throughout the work day and to take frequent breaks from staring at the computer.

 

A good rule of thumb to prevent eyestrain and dryness is the 20/20/20 rule which recommends that, when you are working on the computer, you should take a break every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away from you, for 20 seconds.  This allows your focusing system to relax and resets your blink reflex!

 

Get Your Eyes Examined Today!

 

The first step in prevention is having your eyes examined by a doctor of optometry.  If you have any questions regarding the appropriate eye protection for your workplace, be sure to ask your doctor!  You can get your routine dilated eye exam by calling 306-719-2020.  

 

In Saskatchewan, there is medical coverage for eye emergencies with a valid health card, which include everything from chemical in the eye and foreign body in the eye to sudden vision loss and allergies.  Therefore, be sure to get your eyes examined if you have any problems or concerns with your eyes or vision!

 

References:

  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology: ;http://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/injuries-work

  2. National Eye Institute: ;https://nei.nih.gov/sites/default/files/health-pdfs/HVMPreventingInjuries_Tagged.pdf

Digital Eye Strain