Work-related eye injuries leave thousands without vision annually

Employers should provide employees with the personal protective equipment they need to prevent eye injuries. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, employees sustain serious and permanent vision loss due to work accidents each year. Data indicates 20,000 workplace eye injuries occur annually.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology provides this guidance for eye injuries on the job.

Signs of a serious eye injury

An employee needs immediate medical attention if an accident results in the loss of vision in an eye, if there is ongoing pain and/or if the clear part of the eye has blood in it. Other symptoms of serious injury include:

  • The injured eye does not move as well as the other eye
  • There is a cut or tear in the eyelid
  • The injured eye protrudes from its socket more than the other eye
  • The pupil is an unusual size or shape

If there is an object in the eye, the worker may need medical attention if he or she has tried blinking, tears, saline solution and a tap water flush and these have not cleared the item.

First aid for an eye injury

The type of first aid depends on the injury, but rubbing an injured eye is generally a bad idea, no matter what type of accident occurred. Pressure and/or rubbing can compound the damage from the accident.

After a chemical splash, the employee should flush the eye with clean water and then seek immediate medical attention. A cold compress may help with pain and swelling after a blow to the eye, but if the retina detaches, any pressure could make it worse. If there is a cut or puncture, no one should remove an object from the eye, apply any pressure or rinse the eye. The employee should have a shield over the eye until he or she gets to a doctor.

Seeking immediate medical attention and following treatment orders may be the difference between having sight restored or permanently losing vision in the eye.


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