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March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month

ISPB and Prevent Blindness Illinois (PBIL) have declared March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month to encourage employers and employees to make eye safety and eye protection a priority on the job. We offer a variety of free resources including workplace eye safety fact sheets, shareable social media graphics, and, to help employers educate workers on eye protection and safety, Prevent Blindness also offers the Workplace Safety module in the Healthy Eyes Educational Series. 

According to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers suffered 18,510 eye-related injuries and illnesses in 2020. Contact with objects or equipment led to the majority of eye injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work in 2020. Of these cases, close to 60 percent resulted from the worker rubbing or being abraded by foreign matter in the eye. Another 35 percent resulted from the eye being struck by an object or equipment.

On a global scale, The International Labour Organization and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness collaborated to author the 2023 “Eye Health and the World of Work” report. The report showed that an estimated 3.5 million eye injuries occur in workplaces around the world every year. 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends eye safety gear that protects eyes from hazards such as:

  • Flying shards of metal or glass
  • Tools that slip or malfunction
  • Particles such as wood splinters, metal shavings or crystalline silica
  • Spattered chemicals
  • Any combination of these or other hazards

All eye safety gear should meet the eye protection standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In the event of any eye injury, Prevent Blindness offers the “First Aid for Eye Emergencies” resource.

For those who work in an office setting, using digital devices such as computers, tablets, and cellular phones can expose eyes to blue light. Although blue light exposure from digital screens is small compared to the amount of exposure from the sun, there is concern over the long-term effects of screen exposure because of the close proximity of the screens and the length of time spent looking at them.

People using screens for prolonged periods may experience “digital eye strain.” Symptoms include blurred or double vision, eye fatigue, eye redness or discomfort, and headaches. To help avoid eye strain, we recommend the following:

  • Place your screen 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and a little bit below eye level.
  • Use a document holder placed next to your screen. It should be close enough so you don’t have to swing your head back and forth or constantly change your eye focus.
  • Change your lighting to lower glare and harsh reflections. Glare filters over your digital screens can also help.
  • Get a chair you can adjust.
  • Choose screens that can tilt and swivel. A keyboard that you can adjust is also helpful.
  • Computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses that block blue light can help ease digital eye strain by increasing contrast.
  • Anti-reflective lenses reduce glare and increase contrast and also block blue light from digital devices.

For more information about workplace eye health topics, including the effects of prolonged digital screen use, blue light and eye injuries, please visit PreventBlindness.org.

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