March 29, 2023

How to Prioritize Eye Safety

By: Kady

March is recognized as Workplace Eye Safety Month, but what does this mean? Workplace Eye Safety Month raises awareness around wearing proper eyewear on the job to prevent workplace-related eye injuries.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, about 200 Canadians sustain a work-related eye injury each day. It’s also important to recognize that workplace eye safety goes beyond hazardous workplaces and also covers eye strain from working on computers for prolonged periods of time.

6 ways to prioritize eye safety on industrial job sites

Eye injuries may occur in workplaces where there are flying physical objects or particles present, such as dust, chemicals, liquids or other loose debris. These objects or particles can be harmful if they enter the eye. Another occupational hazard is ultraviolet radiation to the eye, which is a significant risk for those in occupations that involve welding and electrical work.

Here are 6 ways to keep your eyes safe while working on industrial job sites:

  • Using protective screens or meshes to protect from flying particles
  • Eliminating or sealing sources of fine dust, mist or vapors
  • Placing shields or safety glass around machines to prevent wood or other particles from flying
  • Reading and following labels when using chemicals and being thoughtful in order to avoid splashing chemicals
  • Circulating air to limit dust and fumes
  • Using grease shields on frying pans or other cooking elements

Eye injuries in office environments

Eye injuries are most common for people working in industrial occupations, however, people who work in an office setting may also experience eye injuries. Anyone who spends 2 or more hours in front of a computer is at a greater risk of suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Irritated eyes (eye strain)
  • Dry, red or burning eyes
Computer Vision Syndrome doesn’t cause blindness, however, the above symptoms can worsen if treatment or preventative measures are not implemented.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, you should:

  • Take 20 second breaks from looking at the screen every 20 minutes (20-20 Rule)
  • Adjust the screen’s brightness to match the room brightness
  • Increase the text size to a comfortable font level
  • Never view monitors in a dimly light room
  • Use night mode display in the evening

The importance of polarized Sunglasses

It’s important to prioritize eye safety on and off the job, and this includes wearing sunglasses when your eyes are exposed to the sun. A good pair of sunglasses filters out harmful ultraviolet rays, which ongoing exposure is linked to diseases like cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

If your eyes are particularly sensitive, you might want to try polarized sunglasses. Light travels in waves, meaning it vibrates, and light vibrates in multiple directions. Polarization happens when light bounces off a horizontal surface, like snow or water, and vibrates horizontally. This means it becomes concentrated and hits the eye directly. This concentrated light is what we call “glare.”

The difference between regular sunglasses and polarized sunglasses is how the lenses handle glare. Non-polarized lenses are designed to reduce the intensity of any light. If your lenses offer UV protection, they most likely contain special dyes and pigments that absorb ultraviolet rays, preventing them from reaching your eyes. As a result, glare will still reach your eyes with more intensity than other light, impacting your vision.

Polarized lenses are treated with a chemical that filters out light. The filter is applied vertically, so vertical light can pass through, but horizontal light cannot. This prevents glare from making it through the lenses.

Benefits of wearing polarized lenses include:

  • Glare reduction
  • Improved clarity
  • Fatigue reduction
You might benefit from wearing polarized lenses if you live in a sunny yet snowy place, and spend time outdoors often. This is especially true if you participate in winter sports, such as skiing or snowboarding.

If you’re outside for hours in the snow without proper eyewear, the strong UV exposure and glare can cause a temporary but painful condition called photokeratitis or snow blindness. Ski goggles can be custom made with Zeiss polarized lenses to prevent snow blindness.

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