Every day, about 2,000 U.S. workers experience a job-related eye injury, one-third requiring care in an emergency room, and many causing temporary or permanent vision loss.
Think injuries are only caused by flying debris, liquids, particles, and machine or tool failure? Think again. According to The Vision Council, 59-percent of workers experience the symptoms of eye strain, primarily from extended use of digital devices. Symptoms include dry and irritated eyes, headache, muscle strain and blurred vision.
To honor March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month, an initiative aimed to raise awareness about eye protection on the job, DentalPlans.com has collected eye safety tips for workers across the country.
Protective eye gear can prevent 90% of physical injuries, and digital eye strain can be reduced by using an anti-glare screen or reducing overhead lighting to decrease screen glare. Additionally, taking regular breaks and staying hydrated combined with regular comprehensive eye exams can reduce eye damage.
Comprehensive eye exams are different than the quick checkups – the ones involving reading letters off a wall chart – that are conducted solely to assess vision. During a comprehensive exam, an ophthalmologist or optometrist checks for the presence of common eye diseases, evaluates how well the patient’s eyes work in tandem (alignment, depth perception, “binocular” vision) and checks visual acuity to determine whether the patient needs corrective lenses.
“One of the greatest deterrents to getting vision care is the cost. As with dental care, people tend to put off getting preventive care until they have a problem they can’t ignore,” said Jenn Stoll, Chief Commercial Officer at DentalPlans.com. “Thankfully, many dental savings plans include discounts on vision care too, though many plan members don’t realize this. So, it is our mission to educate consumers on these benefits so they can access the care they need at an affordable price. Whether joining a dental savings plan that offers vision discounts or a separate vision savings plan, plan members can save between 15 and 35 percent on eye exams and eyeglasses.”
More than 11 million Americans currently have an uncorrected visual impairment that can impact their quality of life, and that number is expected to rise to 16.4 million by 2050, according to a study by the National Eye Institute. A comprehensive eye exam, like a dental checkup, can also reveal the presence of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Employers can help promote eye safety at work by staying in compliance with the eye protection guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), providing information and training on eye health and digital devices, and prioritizing the need for screen breaks. And, offering vision and dental savings plans can empower employees to take care of their eyes and overall health.