According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, approximately 2,000 U.S. workers are treated for job-related eye injuries each day. However, 90 percent of these injuries can be prevented by wearing proper eye protection. In an effort to raise public awareness on the issue, the AAO has launched a workplace eye wellness initiative for the month of March. The campaign encourages workers in Ohio and elsewhere to wear protective eye gear while on the job.
Workplace eye injuries can range from simple eye strain to serious trauma, which can cause vision loss and blindness. Workers in construction, mining and manufacturing are particularly susceptible to eye trauma, and 40 percent of all eye injuries occur in those three industries. Meanwhile, workers who spend long hours in front of computers may experience eye discomfort, which can lead to eye strain, headaches and fatigue. Staring at computer screens can also dry out and irritate a worker’s eyes as digital displays reduce blinking by up to 50 percent.
To protect eyes from injury, the AAO recommends that workers wear protective eyewear around hazards such as flying debris, chemicals, intense light, heat and falling objects. To reduce eye strain, the organization recommends that workers position their computers at least 25 inches away from their face. They also recommend the 20-20-20 rule, which means to take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object 20 feet away for approximately 20 seconds. Reducing screen glare on computers and smart phones can also help alleviate eye fatigue.
Workers who suffer on-the-job eye injuries are eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits may cover medical expenses and a percentage of a worker’s wages as they recover. Injured workers could learn more about their legal options by speaking with an attorney.