Eye Injuries in the Workplace That Are Preventable

Posted by Bridget Reed on

For most of us, our jobs are routine. The tasks we perform each day are ones we are accustomed to. We’re good at them, and we don’t feel as though we’re at risk of injury when we’re working, even if we know a risk does exist. We’re more scared about our lunch being stolen from the breakroom fridge than a shard of rogue mechanical pencil lead. 

Being comfortable in your job is important, but sometimes it can lead to complacency. Safety precautions you once took may seem unnecessary, or you might simply forget to protect yourself in a dangerous situation. 

Why We Throw Caution To the Wind (and Why We Shouldn’t)

At first, perhaps you were so enamored with the free coffee and sweet parking space at your job that you diligently and proudly strapped on that uncomfortable PPE. You wore those grimy, sweat imprints from the safety goggles indented in your forehead to the bar after work with pride. However, a few months later, you just kinda got… tired of it. 

The gear you were supposed to wear was bulky, awkward, and made you feel lame (especially when the old-timers not-so-quietly scoffed at it). Whether it’s a pair of too-tight hiking boots or a pair of dollar-bin safety glasses, if you hate them, you won’t wear them. If you don’t wear them, they can’t protect you.

Consider this: you love your fluffy dinosaur pajamas and your vintage leather jacket. You wear them because they make you feel good about yourself, and they themselves feel good — comfort is key. Despite what the 1950s fashion magazines said, beauty isn’t pain, and we shouldn’t suffer through it. That’s why we need protective eyewear that looks as good as it feels. 

Each year, thousands of workers suffer eye-related injuries on the job. The fact that most of these injuries are preventable tells us that we can do better in providing our employees with better safety equipment and making sure they know how and when to use it. 

At Stoggles, we understand the importance of eye safety. We’ll talk about how common eye injuries are at work, what kinds of eye injuries can be sustained in the workplace, and what you can do to make sure you’re better protected. Plus, we’ll go over how to look cool while staying safe — because no one wants to be a fashion casualty either. 

Prove It: How Common Are Eye Injuries?

Eye injuries might not seem like a major concern, but they’re actually very common. In fact, you’d be surprised how frequently they occur and where they occur. Because there are different kinds of eye-related injuries, there’s virtually no workspace that is entirely safe for your eyes.

Let’s talk about the whole new meaning behind the phrase “eyesore.”

Number of Eye Injuries At Home

If you work from home or work as a stay-at-home parent or partner, you might think you’re immune to an eye injury. In reality, you’re still at risk. About half of all eye injuries worldwide happen at home. That means when you’re cooking, cleaning, or simply doing a small home repair project. Your eyes are at risk, which is a total bummer.

The biggest issue with eye-related injuries in the home is that most people don’t recognize the risk. If you don’t recognize the risk, you are unlikely to protect your eyes. A good rule of thumb is to always ensure your eyes are protected anytime you’re using cleaning chemicals, cooking, or making a home repair. 

Weekend-Ruining Hobby-Based Eye Injuries

Our eyes are also at risk of injury when we’re engaging in our favorite pastimes. Sports and other recreational hobbies present a risk to our eyes that is even harder to notice because we’re blinded (pun intended) by our love for the activity. 

About 40,000 eye injuries occur each year from sports alone, and these are only the injuries that are formally reported. Thousands more eye-related injuries are sustained from sports and hobbies played outside of leagues, teams, or without the supervision of any governing agency. 

Workplace Eye Injuries

Although an eye injury can happen at home or at play, you’re more likely to sustain an eye-related injury at work than you are anywhere else. The numbers are staggering:

There are approximately 800,000 eye injuries sustained in the workplace each year. About 36,000 of those injuries require time off from work, resulting in lost wages and the possible accumulation of medical bills that can become a financial burden. 

Daily, 2,000 workers sustain eye injuries on the job. That’s a massive number, but the good news is that experts say 90% of those injuries are completely preventable simply by wearing proper protective eyewear.

To determine whether or not you’re at risk while you’re on the job, let’s look at the different types of eye injuries workers often sustain. 

What Kinds of Eye Injuries Happen in the Workplace?

You don’t have to wield a hammer or a blow torch to be at risk of getting injured on the job. Simply sitting behind a computer (or TV movie marathon) for long periods can be damaging to your eyes. 

If you work in a high-risk environment, your employer has likely made you aware of the risk to your eyes and instructed you to wear safety glasses or goggles while you perform your tasks. However, not all workplace environments require employers to provide you with safety equipment, even if there’s a risk to your eyes. 

Here are five ways you could sustain an eye injury while you’re working:

1. Exposure to Chemicals

You don’t have to be a chemist or work in a rubber manufacturing plant to be exposed to toxic chemicals. Hairstylists and nail technicians are as likely to sustain an eye-related injury due to chemical exposure as an employee working in a high-tech lab or warehouse. Formaldehyde isn’t just a thing for gross 7th-grade bio class dissections; formaldehyde is commonly found in nail salons.

Chemical exposure also happens at home from cleaning supplies, at-home hair coloring kits, or even different kinds of lawn treatment. Anytime you are exposed to a chemical, there’s a chance it could come in contact with your eye and cause an injury. 

2. Debris Strikes

Possibly the most common type of eye-related injury is a strike or scrape from flying debris. Although construction workers might seem like the most at-risk sect of the working population to sustain an eye injury from flying debris, there are many different types of jobs where debris is present. 

Manufacturing jobs, automotive repair, and jobs in the healthcare industry all present a risk to your eyes in the form of flying debris. 

Strikes to the eyes can result in lacerations, scrapes, and even permanent vision loss, so it’s vital that your eyes are protected from flying debris whenever you’re in a situation where debris could be present. 

3. Splashes, Spills, and Splatters (Oh My)

Healthcare workers are familiar with the daily risk they take just by going to work. Nurses, especially, are highly likely to come in contact with bodily fluids while caring for patients. What’s worse, bloodborne pathogens and infectious diseases can easily be transmitted from bodily fluids through a chance splash or splatter into the eye. 

Virtually all healthcare settings present some risk of fluid contact. Even if you aren’t directly working with open wounds or intravenous equipment, the patients you care for present a very real threat to your eye health. Combative patients, for instance, could strike your eye or cause fluids to splash into your eyes. 

4. Burns

When we think of burns, we think of fire. As such, if you don’t work near an open flame, you probably aren’t too concerned with whether or not you’ll burn your eye. However, corneal burns are far more common than you’d think. 

Steam, ultraviolet, light, or infrared radiation exposure can potentially cause corneal burns. In these circumstances, you’ll need eyewear specifically designed to resist the offending element. UV blocking lenses keep your eyes safe and allow you to see clearly when you’re exposed to UV rays.

5. Computer Vision Syndrome

CVS isn’t just the drug store with the comically long receipts for a single item. CVS is also a totally not-fun eye condition.

Those of us starting at a screen all day may think we’re safe from on-the-job eye injuries, but that’s not true. Countless hours of staring at your blue-light emitting screen can lead to computer vision syndrome or CVS. CVS happens when you stare at a computer screen, television screen, or other devices for long periods of time. 

Blurry vision, watery eyes, headache, and eye strain are all symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Some experts believe the blue light emitted from computer screens, phones, and tablets, is the root cause of the problem. 

Who Is At Risk?

Not all employees are at risk of sustaining an eye-related injury while at work, but there are several categories of workers who should always wear protective safety eyewear.

  • Healthcare workers. Whether you’re in the lab, the operating room, or in a patient’s room, your eyes are at risk of splashes, spills, and even debris from combative patients. 
  • Construction workers. It goes without saying that construction workers need to protect their eyes. There are numerous threats to your eye health on a job site, and keeping your eyes protected could mean the difference between keeping your vision or not. 
  • Manufacturing employees. Working in a warehouse or a plant that mass produces products means working alongside machinery that can produce debris, steam, or even chemicals. Always keep your eyes safe by wearing properly fitted safety glasses while you work.
  • Automotive Repair. If you’ve ever changed the oil in your car, you know how easily oil can drip where it isn’t supposed to (including your face). Automotive technicians must be especially diligent with eye protection to ensure they avoid contact with chemicals, fluids, and auto parts. 
  • Electricians and Plumbers. Two jobs that require tedious, up-close work demand protective eyewear. No matter how routine the task may be, it’s crucial to wear protective safety glasses.
  • Office workers. You didn’t think you’d run the risk of vision impairment as an accountant, but if you’re staring at a computer screen all day, it takes a toll on your eyes. Investing in protective blue-light blocking glasses can help protect your eyes and keep you comfortable while you’re working. 

There are, of course, numerous other professions that require the use of safety glasses. For complete protection, no matter your job, there are a few factors to consider.

Eyewear That Protects and Works

Sure, you could go with the dollar bin glasses at the hardware store, but we’d argue your vision is worth more than a buck. We’d also wager you’d feel more comfortable in a pair of glasses that were stylistically more appealing than anything you’ll find at a big box store. That’s why we invented Stoggles.

Stoggles aren’t safety goggles or glasses. They’re a little of both; hybrid eyewear that protects your eyes, keeps you safe, and always preserves your sense of style. 

Stoggles are: 

  • ANSI Z87.1-2020 Certified
  • Impact Resistant
  • Anti-fogging
  • Blue-light blocking
  • Side and top shield protective
  • Naturally UV-blocking

Stoggles are designed with the wearer in mind. We know it’s important to protect your eyes, but we also know you aren’t going to wear protective eyewear unless it’s comfortable and attractive. We give you both, and with options like different lens shapes and fun colors, you can completely customize your look. 

When someone compliments your look, simply flip your hair and say, “Thanks. It’s PPE,” and then ride off into the sunset… or into the conference room. Same difference.

Work Smart, Look Smart

You shouldn’t have to worry about keeping your eyes safe while you’re on the job. At Stoggles, we believe you also shouldn’t have to choose protection over a polished look. We give you both, thanks to our unique hybrid eyewear that keeps your eyes safe and always preserves your dignity and style. 

Stay safe, look smart. Stoggles puts you in control of your eye safety and gives you a stylish option for PPE. 


Protecting your eyes at work | AOA

Eye Safety at Home: Preventing Eye Injuries | American Academy of Ophthalmology

Eye Injuries In Sports | AAFP.org

800,000 Eye Injuries Occur Annually, 90% are Preventable | EHS Today

Computer Vision Syndrome | Cedars-Sinai

Health Hazards in Nail Salons - Chemical Hazards | Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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