NIOSH Promotes Worker Eye Safety and Health

Vision protection2NIOSH has partnered with the National Institute of Health’s Eye Institute (NEI) to help promote Healthy Vision Month.

Every May, the NEI empowers American workers to make their eye health a priority and educates them about steps they can take to protect their vision.

As part of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute’s mission is to “conduct and support research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health problems and requirements of the blind.”

Michelle Lee, Public Health Analyst in the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health, with a focus in Research Translation and Communication, stated in her science blog that while workers have a vested interest in safeguarding their eyes, employers have a legal and ethical responsibility to keep workers safe from hazards, including those that may impact vision.

Every day, about 2,000 US workers receive medical treatment because of eye injuries sustained at work. The most common causes of these injuries include small particles or objects striking the eye, blunt force trauma, chemical burns, and thermal burns. Some workers are at an additional risk of exposure to infectious disease transmissible through the mucous membranes of the eye as a result of exposure to droplets of blood and other body fluids or other forms of contact.

Poorly organized, designed or maintained workplaces can also put workers at risk of eye injury. Inadequate lighting that impacts sight and poor or declining vision can also contribute to many types of work-related injuries, including traffic incidents and slips, trips, or falls.

Older workers are at a higher risk of developing age-related eye diseases and conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, and chronic dryness of the eyes. Vision loss from many common eye diseases is often preventable if detected and treated early.