The Eyes Have It – March Is Workplace Eye Safety Month
Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment each day. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90% of these eye injuries. Simply using the proper eye protection on the job could prevent thousands of eye injuries each year.
To mark Workplace Eye Safety Month, the CDC/NIOSH and American Academy of Ophthalmology has put together some tips to help us alleviate some of the eye problems modern technology has given birth to. They are:
- Get an eye exam: Has it been a year or two since your last exam by your ophthalmologist, who can rule out the possibility of any eye disease. If you wear glasses or contact lenses you could simply need glasses when working at a computer, reading, or your prescription might need updating.
- Screen distance: You should sit approximately 20 inches from the computer monitor, a little further than you would for reading distance, with the top of the screen at 2 plus or minus eye level.
- Equipment: If possible chooses a monitor that has both contrast and brightness controls.
- Reference materials: Keep reference materials on a document holder so you don’t have to keep looking back and forth, frequently refocusing your eyes and turning your neck and head.
- Lighting: Modify your lighting to eliminate as much reflections or glare as possible. If possible arrange your work station away from window glare.
- Rest breaks: Take periodic rest breaks and try to blink often to keep your eyes from drying out. Use the 20-20-20 method. Every 20 minutes of typing stop and focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Allowing your eyes to reduce the constant focus strain. Additionally, force yourself to yawn this can help moisturize your eyes.
Another thing to remember is that the forced-air heating systems can increase problems with dry eyes during the winter months. The usual symptoms of dry eye are stinging or burning eyes, scratchiness, a feeling that there’s something in the eye, excessive tearing or difficulty wearing contact lenses.
Over-the-counter eye drops, called artificial tears or saline drops, usually help, but if dry eye persists, see your eye doctor for an evaluation.