Each day, around 2,000 American workers sustain eye injuries on the job. These injuries can result in life-changing vision impairment and extensive medical treatment for workers and lost revenue due to reduced productivity for employers.
Providing your patients with important facts about occupational eye injuries can help them learn how to protect their eyes and stay safe at work.
- Most Eye Injuries Result From Small Particles
While workplace eye injuries can be caused by a variety of factors, small particles are a leading cause of eye injuries in many industries, including construction and manufacturing.Small particles, such as dust, metal shavings, and wood chips, can scratch the eye’s surface, causing corneal abrasions or lacerations. Objects such as nails or staples can penetrate the eye, causing more severe injuries or blindness.
- Eye Diseases Are Caused By Direct Exposure
Direct exposure to certain substances or conditions can cause eye diseases. For example, exposure to UV radiation from the sun can increase the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Similarly, exposure to chlorine, ammonia, or perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) can cause vision impairment, severe eye irritation, or even chemical burns.
- Around 20,000 Workplace Eye Injuries Occur Each Year
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 20,000 eye injuries occur on the job each year. In 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 27,450 eye injuries.This accounted for 62% of facial injuries and 37% of all head injuries that resulted in missed work days. The severity of these injuries can vary, from minor eye strain to more severe trauma that can lead to permanent damage, vision loss, and even blindness.
- Eye Injuries Cost $300 Million in Worker Compensation
Eye injuries impact more than the victims; occupational eye injuries can reduce workplace productivity, reducing companies’ bottom lines.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that workplace eye injuries cost around $300 million annually for medical treatment, worker compensation, and decreased productivity.
- 10% to 20% of Workplace Eye Injuries Result in Vision Loss
Eye injuries in the workplace range from minor irritation to severe lacerations. Unfortunately, approximately 10-20% of all eye injuries cause permanent vision loss. Many instances of vision loss due to eye injuries could have been prevented by using protective eyewear and seeking early treatment.