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What can you do to protect your eyes at work?

Eye injuries are more common in the workplace than you may think. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has reported that there are around 2,000 workers in the United States who suffer eye injuries every day.

The right eye protection can help prevent these injuries or lessen the severity of an injury that can't be prevented. For example, eye injuries may be caused by a splash from grease or oil. To reduce the risk of this, goggles or safety glasses should always be worn.

Another risk is exposure to infectious diseases, especially for those who are health care workers or working in a laboratory. Even janitorial staff members can come across biological hazards. This kind of exposure can be dangerous, since disease could spread through direct exposure to viruses generated during coughing, from contaminated fingers or objects or from exposure to blood.

In most cases, those who experience eye injuries suffer them because they are not wearing eye protection or because they're not wearing the right kind of eye protection. For example, if you are working in an area with flying particles or objects, you should wear safety glasses with side protection.

On the other hand, if you are working with chemicals, you should wear goggles. If you're going to be around radiation, wear special-design safety gear that reduces your overall exposure. If you aren't given safety equipment that stands up to the task, speak to your employer. If you're hurt, you should be able to seek workers' compensation to help cover the cost of medical care, lost wages and more.

Source: American Optometric Association, "Protecting Your Eyes at Work," accessed Oct. 19, 2016

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