Eye injuries: consequences and prevention strategies

PSG Eyewear

By Annette Hoskin*
Sunday, 01 March, 2020



Eye injuries: consequences and prevention strategies

Surveys have revealed that our vision is the most valued of all of our senses. The World Health Organization has estimated that more than 19 million people suffer blindness in one eye from injury. An eye injury can result in outcomes ranging from lost days at work to permanent loss of vision, as well as reduced productivity and medical and workers compensation costs. Many occupations are at risk of an eye injury. Mining, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, forestry and fishing are some of the industries where workers most commonly sustain an eye injury at work.

Consequences of an eye injury

With poor vision also comes an increased risk of injury. With more than 50,000 eye injuries occurring each year in Australia it is important to ensure that not only are your eyes protected, but also to maintain your vision with regular eye examinations and prescription eye protection. Injuries and foreign bodies can lead to irritation, infection and scarring. After an open globe injury in which the eyeball ruptures or is penetrated, poor visual outcomes are common, with up to 40% unable to return to their previous job as a result.

Understanding when eye injuries happen and why

Young, inexperienced males are at high risk of eye injury, and those who have had a previous eye injury or operation are also at higher risk of a further eye injury. Particles travelling at high speed generated from mechanical equipment, chemical splashes and spills, as well as radiation sources, are common eye hazards. Activities often associated with eye injuries include: lawn mowing, farm fencing, hammering, chain sawing, tree pruning and grinding.

Preventing eye injuries

Up to 90% of eye injuries are preventable. A hazard assessment should be undertaken and eye protection worn that is appropriate to the task. Fit and comfort are important for compliance and it is important that employees are given buy-in to procurement decisions to ensure that the most appropriate eye protection solution is provided. Eye protection certified to meet the Australian Standard (AS1337) provides the best guarantee of protection, with medium impact protection a good choice for all around protection. When prescription eye protection is needed the best option for vision, fit, comfort and coverage is eye protection custom made with the worker’s prescription that complies with AS/NZS1337.6.

Vision plays a critical role in every part of our lives. Studies have shown that people with uncorrected or reduced vision are more than 60% more likely to have an occupational injury. With the ageing workforce, it is important to ensure their distance and near visual needs are met with the best prescription eye protection. A common myth is that regular spectacle lenses provide some level of eye protection. When undertaking hazardous activities, regular spectacles or sunglasses can be even more hazardous to the wearer, as the lenses may shatter into fragments when hit by blunt objects. It is important that eye protection is chosen to guarantee protection from hazards.

The Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act requires anyone with a duty for ensuring health and safety to eliminate risks so far as is reasonably practicable, which includes providing appropriate personal protective equipment and adequate processes and training to support their use. Custom made prescription or non-prescription eye protection certified to the Australian Standard provides the best form of protection from eye hazards.

*Annette Hoskin is Global Standardisation Manager at Essilor International.

Top image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Tomasz Zajda

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