The eye is one of the main organs through which some living organisms, including human beings, perceive their environment.
The amazing eye’s refracting system allows light from objects focus onto the area at the back of the eye called the retina. Light energy enters the eye through the cornea. The cornea can be thought of as special transparent skin that covers the eye. The lens then bends, or refracts the light until a majority of the light energy is focused on the retina. Since the retina is sensitive to light and can be damaged by excessive light energy. The iris, or coloured part of the eye, is the muscle that controls the amount of light that enters the eye through an opening called the pupil. The pupil size shrinks with any increase in light falling on the eye. The retina consists of light sensitive cells called rods and cones. The rods are concentrated on the edge of the retina and are mainly for peripheral vision and detection of moving objects. The cones are in the centre of the retina and are responsible for detailed vision and colour reception. The optic nerve sends the signals from the eye to the brain. Thus, the retina captures the image and the brain interprets it.
No matter where we work, flying particles, dusts, fumes, vapors, or harmful rays are apt to expose us to potential eye injury. Fortunately, we can protect against these hazards by using the appropriate protective eyewear.
Common Types of Eye Injuries
The type and severity of eye injuries range from small scratches, which heal in a few days, to chemical burns that can cause permanent blindness.
Eye injuries are usually the result of direct contact with an irritant to the eye. The irritant may come directly from the source to the eye, in the event of a chemical splash or debris from an activity, or be transferred to the eye from a soiled hand, arm, or other means.
Chemical Exposures and Burns
Chemical exposures and burns occur when a toxic substance makes contact with the eye. Acids, alkalis, strong solvents and cleaning agents, and other industrial chemicals are highly caustic and can cause severe damage. The amount of damage suffered from a chemical splash depends on how long the chemical is in contact with the eye. Thoroughly flush the eyes for 15 minutes to completely dilute the chemical.
A corneal abrasion is, in effect, a scratch or an abrasion of the transparent eye covering. These are the most common type of eye injury and are usually overlooked, mainly because most heal by themselves within a few days. Corneal abrasions are caused by a foreign object making contact with the eye and can be classified as traumatic, foreign body related contact lens related, or spontaneous.
This type of injury can occur in the same way as a corneal abrasion. It is also associated with a blow to the eye from a blunt object.
Hyphemas and Orbital Blowout Fractures
These injuries are associated with significant force from a blunt object to the eye and surrounding structures.
Lacerations can occur to the eyelids and cornea. They are commonly caused by contact with a sharp object, including shards of glass.
The most common light-induced trauma to the eye is ultraviolet keratitis, which can be thought of as sunburn to the cornea.
Generally, a foreign body is a small piece of metal, wood, or plastic filing. This could be anything that gets into the eye.
It is estimated that 90 per cent of eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear. The task now is to educate people on how important it is to wear eye protection. People don’t realize that an eye can be destroyed in a fraction of a second.
Standard safety glasses look very much like normal glasses, but are designed to protect you against flying particles. They contain lenses that are impact resistant and frames that are far stronger than regular eyeglasses.
Protective eyewear has evolved dramatically over the years. In the past, safety glasses were worn mainly in industry and made of tempered glass with unflattering frame styles. Since then, a merge between safety glasses and sunglasses has made eyewear more protective and fashionable. There is a much wider selection of colours and styles of frames to choose from. Lens materials, such as phoenix/trivex, and polycarbonate, are the industry standard for today’s safety eyewear.
There is no “good” excuse for an eye injury.
For information about a comprehensive Prescription Safety Eyewear Program, personalized for your company, contact Darren Mirau, Occupational Vision Care (OVC) Coordinator at the Saskatchewan Association of Optometrists (SAO) at 306.652.2069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.