Protect Your Eyes During Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month

Are you doing all you can to care for your eyes?

We often take our eyes for granted. You don’t necessarily think of your eyes when you think of caring for your health. But March is Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month—the perfect time to consider how you’re using your eyes at work, and what you could be doing to protect them. It turns out there are a lot of eye safety actions that are easy to put into place.

We can forget that the stakes are very high—you could lose your vision with one unfortunate eye accident. Thousands of Americans injure their eyes at work each day, and a third of those require a visit to the ER. A small particle of wood or metal can scratch the eye, or traces of a dangerous liquid can splash into the eye—even cleaning products can do significant damage.

But these are not the only eye injuries to look out for. Computer screens at work make up about 1/6 of the eye problems people complain about to their doctors. And many of our jobs are becoming more screen-intensive all the time (not to mention that we don’t give our eyes much of a break from screens in the non-work hours).

Prevent Blindness claims that up to 2 in 10 work-related injuries will lead to a permanent loss of vision. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wearing the correct protection can prevent the majority of eye injuries, so consider whether safety glasses, goggles, helmets, or face shields may be appropriate where you work. People who work in healthcare should be particularly careful, since the mucus membrane of the eye is one way for an infectious disease to spread.

If you’re working for 8 hours at a computer screen, it’s equally important to take precautions to support your eyes. Follow these suggestions to avoid vision strain while you’re busy during those long work days:

  • Make sure your monitor is at eye level, so your eyes are not working extra hard during the hours you’re staring at the screen. Keep about 30 inches between your eyes and the screen. This is the right distance to keep you from having to strain, but keeps the level of light from being too intense.
  • Rest your eyes every 15 minutes. Look up from the screen, walk around the office, or have a conversation with a colleague, so that your eyes can refocus and rest temporarily.
  • Remember to blink. This hydrates your eyes, which is important to eye health. Take a moment to think about this basic action during the workday.

We hope you will be mindful this month, and remind those close to you to be careful about eye care. If you take care of your eyes, they will continue to take care of you!

This is an article for the weekly blog of the American College for Medical Careers. We are dedicated to the health and wellness of our students. Visit our website for information about the programs we offer at our Orlando, FL campus.