Safety glasses are a vital source of protection for those working jobs with potential safety hazards. Eye injuries are relatively common in the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 2000 US workers receive job-related eye injuries every day. Statics such as this clearly reveals the need for eye protection, the most common form being carefully crafted safety glasses. However, basic models are not always enough. For those with mild vision impairments or those in jobs with strong light exposure, bifocal safety sunglasses are the best option for eye protection.
Common Job-Related Eye Hazards
Employees in a factory or construction field are at high risk for foreign objects contaminating their eyes. Common risks include wood chips, metal scrapings, cement dust, dirt, and other dangerous particulates .
- Chemical or Thermal Burns
Those involved in the composition or use of industrial chemicals are susceptible to harsh chemical burns that can seriously damage or even destroy full vision. Injuries such as this occur from spills, splashing, or even toxic vapor exposure. Similarly, thermal burns commonly occur in workers involved in construction and welding. These burns occur from metal sparking and extreme heat.
A far less common eye risk is a condition called photokeratitis, commonly known as eye sunburn. Although every person knows the risk of common skin sunburns and many take proper precautions, very few realize the danger sunlight exposure poses to our eyes. The sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV rays) cause severe eye damage if the proper protection is not used. This damage is long-lasting and progressive. The cells of the eye experience deterioration when exposed to too much sunlight on a regular basis. For employees spending extended time working in outdoor conditions, this is a very real risk for them. Those in landscaping, construction, or other outdoor-related industries often experience photokeratitis on some level.
Even on cloudy, overcast days, eye sunburn is still possible. This is especially true on snowy winter days where the sun piercingly reflects off of snow or ice. In cases such as this, a form of photokeratitis known as “snow blindness” occurs. This form of eye sunburn is often much more severe than basic photokeratitis. Any worker that spends significant time outdoors or in snowy, icy conditions should always wear proper eye protection.
Common Symptoms of Photokeratitis and Snow-blindness
- Varying degrees of eye pain
- “Gritty” sensations or itchiness
- Swelling and wateriness
- Noticeably sensitivity to light
- Vision changes such as blurring or seeing glowing “halos” around objects
- Eye muscle twitching
- Changes in color perception
Although mild cases of photokeratitis resolve themselves with proper rest and eye care, serious conditions lead to vision damage, macular degeneration, cataracts, or other eye conditions. The wisest alternative to avoiding this condition is providing adequate eye protection. Protective measures include hats or headwear that give shade. The most important protection we can give our eyes is the use of strong safety sunglasses. These glasses go beyond the basic store-purchased brands. Adequate safety sunglasses should hold safety certifications such as ANSI Z87 to ensure that they give proper on-the-job protection. The best models feature a “wrap-around” style that ensures no excess sunlight can hit the eyes. Always look for models that promise 100% UV protection.
Prevalence of Photokeratitis in the Work Place
Although not always known by its official name, photokeratitis is far more common than most think. For those in the welding industry, “arc” eye is a common work-related-injury. Exposure to extreme heat, molten metal “slag,” and ultraviolet and infrared rays results in this industry-specific version of photokeratitis. Even with the proper welding helmets, strong safety sunglasses are vital in eye protection.
Even certain industries such as entertainment and newscasting which many consider as less risky have even proven dangerous to eye health. In an interview with the Vision Council, an organization aimed at increasing professional and public awareness of eye hazards, an NBC news correspondent revealed his own personal experience with photokeratitis after neglecting to wear the proper eye protection while reporting on-scene. Although he didn’t notice the effects immediately, he explains that after several hours, he explains, ” I was in agony. My eyes were swollen shut and felt like I had two hot coals smoldering in my sockets. The darkness lasted for 36 hours. Little did I know at the time, I had experienced an extreme case of photokeratitis, or sunburn for the eyes.”
Many more cases of work-related photokeratitis exist. This eye condition affects employees of all job positions and walks of life. Fortunately, many cases of this eye hazard are avoided by using simple eye protective measures such as safety sunglasses. This easy, cost-effective protection measure spares many the pain and loss of productivity resulting from an eye injury.
Other Factors to Consider
Proper eye protection from the sun’s UV rays is vital. However, other important factors should be considered. For employees that require reading aids such as bifocals or reading glasses, traditional safety sunglasses are not enough. Their eyes are protected from the sun, but they will struggle with job tasks that require periodic reading or writing. This is a real challenge for those tasked with on-the-job record-keeping or paperwork. In addition to basic safety sunglasses, models that are enhanced with bifocals capabilities greatly reduce eye strain and vision difficulties while still providing UV ray protection. These models are equipped with built-in bifocal lenses that allow workers to read and write with ease without having to change their sunglasses out or even take them off. The cost-effective, genuine benefits of safety sunglasses are expounded by the effectiveness of built-in bifocal lenses. With comprehensive safety glasses such as these, nearly all work places and employees benefit from the safety and accessibility of this model. For more information on this model of safety sunglasses or to view other beneficial products, please contact us.