Certain jobs pose greater risk for injury than others. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 300,000 emergency department visits every year are the result of on-the-job eye injuries, and 40 percent of all job-related eye injuries occur in three main industries: construction, mining, and manufacturing. As many as 90 percent of these eye injuries can be easily prevented with the right eye protection. Without proper eye protection, on-the-job injuries may range from eye strain to blindness.

Protective eyewear is the first line of defense against on-the-job eye injuries. In construction, manufacturing, and mining, most injuries occur due to airborne debris, falling materials, or chemical burns. Additional eye injuries may occur due to light or heat — particularly for welders who are at risk for flash-burns to the eyes. Even simple dust in the workplace poses a risk of injury to the eyes.

When looking for work-related eye protection, make sure that your glasses, goggles, or mask are approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and follow OSHA guidelines. Also, verify that your gear is designed for your particular job’s hazards. Those who work with chemicals should wear protective goggles, while welders or those working with lasers, fiber-optics, or certain types of radiation should wear safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed specifically for these types of work.

In jobs where materials may be flying through the air, such as in construction or manufacturing, safety glasses with side shields will not only help protect the eyes from materials coming at the eyes from the front, but also from materials that may come from the sides. It is important to wear eye protection at all times, since a single eye injury may cause permanent blindness.

If you suffer from an on-the-job eye injury, follow your job’s safety guidelines, many of which are enforced by OSHA.

Here is a list of eye injury do’s and dont’s:


If you have minor debris in your eyes, avoid rubbing them at all costs. Instead, go to an eyewash station to flush out any debris and material. If an eyewash station isn’t available, rinse your eyes using plain water. If you still feel, or see, debris in the eye, loosely place a bandage over the affected eye and visit your doctor at Silverstein Eye Centers as soon as possible, or seek treatment in an emergency room.


If you suffer a cut or puncture to the eye, it is critical that you do not remove any objects that have been embedded in your eye. Do not rinse or rub your eye, and avoid applying any pressure to the affected area. Also, don’t take ibuprofen or other non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as these may thin the blood and cause increased bleeding. If possible, gently place a bandage or shield over the eye and seek treatment at the nearest emergency department immediately.


For any type of chemical burn to the eye, find an eyewash station or flush the eye with copious amounts of clean, plain water. In this case, the more water, the better. Go to the nearest emergency room immediately.


If you have been hit in the eye, avoid applying any pressure — as the bones directly around the eye are somewhat delicate. If the bone is fractured, applying pressure could press the bone inward toward the eye and possibly do more damage. If you have an obvious deformity around the eye, experience changes in vision, or experience a black eye, visit your nearest emergency department right away. If there is no obvious deformity and your vision is intact, gently lay a cold compress over the eye and seek further evaluation from your Silverstein Eye Centers doctor as soon as possible.

To learn more about eye injuries and about how to protect yourself from on-the-job eye injuries, call Silverstein Eye Centers today at (816) 358-3600. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Posted May 29, 2014 by Silverstein Eye Centers
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