Organizations like the American Optometric Association and Prevent Blindness designate March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month. Before you think that this topic does not apply to you, consider that eye injuries in the workplace are very common.
More than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day. These eye injuries in the workplace result in:
- About 10% require one or more missed workdays.
- 10 to 20% will cause temporary or permanent vision loss.
- Collectively cost more than $300 million in lost work time, medical expenses and workman’s compensation.
Aside from injuries, when it comes to eye wellness in the workplace, even the slightest vision problem can reduce employee productivity by 10% and accuracy by 40%, and can affect the employee’s overall health, according to the American Optometric Association Study on Optometry.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to be aware of for both overall eye wellness and safety, or risk of injuries, in the workplace:
Prevent Blindness, one of the nation’s oldest volunteer eye health and safety groups, notes that awareness about eye health in the workplace is becoming an increasingly more important. They note that a 2018 Nielsen study revealed that American adults spend more than 11 hours per day staring at screens. That’s an increase of almost an hour and half over the past 4 years.
Most digital devices have light-emitting diodes (LED) that radiate blue wavelength light. Prolonged exposure to this blue light can lead to eye strain, dry and irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, lack of concentration, and difficulty sleeping.
Some studies have also linked blue light exposure to a slow degeneration of the retina, which could affect long-term vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.
To avoid digital eye strain in the workplace, follow these recommendations:
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Look away from the screen every 20 minutes at something 20 feet away for 20-seconds.
- Keep an arm’s length working distance from your digital device.
- Reduce glare by adjusting device settings or using a glare filter to decrease the amount of blue light reflected from the screen.
- Turn your digital devices off at least one hour before bed.
If you work in an environment that poses hazards to your eyes, make sure to use proper protective eyewear to avoid injuries to your eyes. Experts believe that the right eye protection could have reduced the severity or even prevented 90% of eye injuries in accidents.
Eye injuries range from surface scratches to severe trauma that can cause permanent damage, vision loss, and blindness. The most common causes of workplace eye injuries include:
- Grinding dust
- Small bits of wire, metal, or glass
- Flying or falling objects
- Intense light or heat, such as from welding or radiation
You should wear protective eyewear if you work in—or even pass through—an area that has potential eye hazards. The type of safety eye protection you need depends on the hazards your workplace may expose you to. For example, if you are working in an area that has flying objects, particles, or dust you must at least wear safety glasses with side shields.
If you work with chemicals, you should wear properly-fitting goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation from lasers or fiber optics you must use special-purpose goggles, safety glasses, face shields, or helmets designed specifically for those tasks. Double check that your eye safety gear meets OSHA regulations and has been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to meet eye protection standards.
If an eye injury does occur while you’re on the job, contact our office and request an emergency appointment. It’s important that you are seen as soon as possible. Postponing medical attention for what you think is just a minor injury still could result in permanent vision damage or blindness.
In addition, if you’re experiencing any symptoms of digital eye strain, schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam with the doctors at Baptist Eye Surgeons. We treat a wide range of eye injuries and specialize in detecting and treating eye diseases and conditions, including digital eye strain and dry eye syndrome.
With offices in Knoxville, TN and Morristown, TN, Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice dedicated to providing exceptional eye care to patients whose needs range from routine comprehensive eye examinations to complex eye surgeries. To learn about our specialities and our doctors, visit our website. Call us at 865-579-3920 for more information, or visit us online to schedule an appointment.