Why you need safety glasses

It seems like several times a week a patient comes into the office complaining about getting something in their eye. I have seen the toughest of patients brought to their knees with the tiniest piece of metal in their cornea. I think it is the sound of the rotating burr digging the rust ring out of their eye that does it.

The National Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that there are over 2000 eye injuries a day that needs medical attention. It is believed that most of these injuries could have been prevented if the victim was wearing proper eye protection. These numbers don’t even include the weekend warriors that tackle car repairs, lawns, or small home projects. Eye injuries can occur anywhere. If an injury occurs at work and the worker is required to file workers’ compensation, one of the first questions asked about the accident is, “Were you wearing safety glasses?” 

Safety glasses are meant to keep your eyes safe from projectiles, chemicals, liquids, and gases or vapors. They create a barrier between the offending agent and the eye. Sadly, workers usually don’t wear them because the style is ugly, they are not the correct glasses or goggles for the work situation, or the size is completely wrong. Certain occupations call for specific safety glasses. Some high-risk occupations include construction, manufacturing, carpentry, welding, and auto repair. These professions may require goggles if working with chemicals, face shields if working with radiation, or side shields if working around flying debris. Specific healthcare workers want to protect themselves from bloodborne pathogens.  Workers can lose plenty of man-hours if unable to work because of an eye injury. These can vary from a traumatic black and blue eye to a penetrating eye injury or a very painful corneal abrasion. 

We can all appreciate the fine men and women that work in the huge manufacturing facilities that house their operations all over Hampton Roads.  They are the driving force behind our military and shipping terminals. It’s these essential workers that keep the economy moving, and it’s for this reason that I recommend these workers wear safety eye protection whenever they are working. I, for one, will see them in the office if need be but I would prefer them to keep working. That being said, be safe out there and wear your safety glasses!

Author: Theodore Hallberg, OD

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