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March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month. Here are tips to protect yourself

Judith Whitehead – Contributing Writer

Statistics on workplace injuries to the eyes is surprisingly high: Every day, approximately 2,000 U.S. workers sustain a job-related eye injury that requires medical attention.

Common causes include flying debris such as metal and particles while using a saw; liquid splashing; and rubbing the eyes with contaminated hands, sleeves or something else.

Eye goggle protection would cut down on these injuries considerably. The safety specs must fit well because, despite wearing these glasses, a poor fit will allow particles and liquids to enter the eye area and cause damage.

Many liquids that are caustic can cause instant damage, starting with the cornea, and require immediate medical attention. Make sure the company you work for has safety rules posted for all employees, and eye wash stations available to use for everyone in case of emergency eye injuries.

When it comes to all eye injuries, prevention is always a must. All health care workers should wear some sort of eye protection during minor procedures and while working on contaminated communicable patients.

Many eye injuries will follow you for life. Scratches, puncture wounds and similar injuries can be treated but will leave you with lifelong problems.

I have seen many times eye injuries and accidents that could have been prevented. Don't treat yourself, don't use eye drops prescribed for others and don't take medical advice from friends and co-workers; you could be making matters worse. Going to an emergency room isn't always the answer. Medical knowledge of many providers there is limited when it comes to the eyes and, if the injury is serious enough, they will call in a specialist anyway. Save precious time and, if you can, get to an ophthalmologist immediately.

Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.


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