5 Ways to Care For Your Eyes at Work

March is a busy month for eye health and wellness. Last week, March 11-17 was World Glaucoma Awareness Week, while the entire month of March has been declared as Eye Wellness in the Workplace month by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAOO). The eyes may not be the first thing people think of when considering workplace hazards or injuries, but it is just as important to make sure the eyes are taken care of at work.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 eye injuries happen in the workplace each year, which can add up to approximately $300 million per year in lost productivity, medical treatment and worker compensation.

Workplace injuries more often than not occur with individuals in engineering, industrial or other manual occupations, but working in an office setting can be just as hazardous to the eyes. The following are five ways you can take care of your eyes while working.

  1. If you do work in areas such as construction work, chemical engineering, landscaping or veterinary work, it is crucial to first understand what the hazards of your job are, whether they are irritating chemicals or sharp objects that may strike the eye. If these risks are present in your workplace, wear some form of eye protection such as safety glasses. Make sure these glasses are in good shape, with no scratches or missing parts, and they are clean so that you can effectively observe your surroundings.
  2. Know the safety resources at your workplace and how to properly take action, should some injury occur. In a workplace where you are exposed to, for example, dangerous chemicals, emergency eyewashes or drench showers can provide relief. Eyewashes should be located within 10 seconds of the potential hazard, and workers must flush their eyes for 15 minutes to cleanse the affected areas. Make sure you understand how to use these emergency stations.
  3. On the other hand, in an office setting, the best thing you can do to protect your eyes is to be aware of your computer usage. Many in the office setting are affected by computer vision syndrome, which can make your eyes feel irritated and fatigued. According to Eye Med, staring at a screen for extended periods of time lengthens the interval between blinks, which decreases the lubrication and moisture in the eyes. This may sound painfully obvious, but don’t forget to blink! This can prevent your eyes from getting dried out. Over-the-counter eye drops or even drinking enough water can be very helpful in restoring moisture in your eyes and keeping them comfortable.
  4. Along with keeping your eyes lubricated, maintaining a healthy distance from your computer screen, about two feet, can help your eyes not feel as tired or irritated. Also, remember the 20-20-20 rule, which says that every 20 minutes, you should look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
  5. In any type of workplace, you should learn to recognize an eye injury, whether it’s you or a coworker that is affected. Do not attempt to treat yourself or a coworker if the injury is very serious. Instead, seek medical help immediately for any of these signs:
  • The person has pain or trouble seeing.
  • One eye does not move as well as the other.
  • There is blood in the clear part of the eye.
  • The person has something caught in the eye or under the eyelid that can’t be easily removed.

We only have one pair of eyes, so keeping them healthy at work is imperative. Remember these tips next time you are at your workbench or at your desk, and it will make a difference in your eye health. However, no piece of advice is more important than having regular eye exams done to ensure your eyes are healthy and taken care of.

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