According to the 109-year-old eye advocacy group, Prevent Blindness®, there are around 2,000 work-related eye injuries every day. Of those injuries, 90 percent could be lessened or prevented with proper eye protection.
March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month. Healthcare professionals are particularly susceptible to eye damage. Consider the following tips based on your role.
Eye Injuries in Healthcare Settings
First Responders: EMS, fire, and military should wear protective eye gear for all health-related calls. The open mucus membrane of the eyes is one of the easiest receptors of infectious diseases. You never know what pathogen can be found in a patient’s blood or saliva.
Most types of emergencies pose a risk to eye health. Impact-resistant safety glasses protect against shrapnel, particulates, and dangerous chemicals. With the increasing prevalence of drugs like carfentanil and active shooter/hostile events (ASHEs), first responders can never be too careful.
In addition to wearing eye protection, gloves prevent the spread of disease and prevent getting dangerous chemicals in the eyes.
Nurses: Nurses come into contact with infectious diseases as well as chemicals, especially when working with trauma and other patients in emergency rooms. While personal protective equipment (PPE) may not be required in emergency rooms, it is no less important. Don’t wait for a confirmed HIV positive test before considering a face shield.
Be careful around chemicals and radiation as well. It only takes a single drop of the wrong disinfectant or caustic solution to do permanent damage.
Pharmacy: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has hazard communication standards readily available. In addition to a hazard communication program, it’s crucial to consider the potential effects of all toxic, corrosive, or carcinogenic materials before exposing yourself to them.
Finally, computer screens pose a risk to eye health during extended use. Use the 20-20-20 method to avoid computer eye syndrome by looking away from your computer every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds and look at something 20 feet away.
Start with Students
In an emergency, the first and most important way to help your patient is by protecting yourself. Students should be regularly reminded of this as well as instructed in what PPE to use in what context. Browse gloves, goggles and glasses, and antimicrobial cleaners on the Pocket Nurse® corporate website.