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How To Prevent Workplace Eye Emergencies

How To Prevent Workplace Eye Emergencies

Working in a hands-on industry can be very rewarding, but it can also come with risks. Many work sites require employees to wear safety gear such as high-visibility vests and hard hats, but eye protection is another vital part of workplace safety. The vast majority of workplace eye emergencies are preventable with proper eye protection and precautions. If you work a job that includes the use of chemicals, has large particles in the air (such as sawdust or metal shavings), or involves the use of power tools or otherwise potentially hazardous equipment, make sure you follow these tips to keep your eyes safe and prevent eye emergencies.

Protect Yourself Against Eye Injuries

Use Eye Protection
Proper eye protection is your number one defense against eye emergencies. Proper eye safety gear protects your eyes and eyelids from hazards such as fast-moving projectiles that can pierce the eye, large particles that can scratch the cornea, or chemicals that can corrode the eye. Proper eye protection that fits, adequately covers your eyes, and is specifically designed as safety gear will keep hazards away from your delicate eyes. If you need prescription lenses, speak to your employer about getting prescription safety glasses, as regular eyeglasses do not provide the same protection as certified safety glasses. Regular eyeglasses can shatter upon impact and cause further damage to the eye.

Be Aware Of Hazards
Always be aware of your environment and know what potential hazards can affect your health. Take note of any equipment, materials, processes, or tasks that may be a threat to eye health and report them to your supervisor. If these hazards are unavoidable, ensure that you mark them and warn others so that your co-workers can all proceed with caution. Ensure all equipment is up to safety standards and all guards are in place.

Inspect Protective Gear
Wearing safety glasses and other protective gear can only protect you against eye emergencies if there is no damage to the safety gear. For example, wearing safety glasses that are scratched and difficult to see out of can limit vision and cause further risk of injury. Wearing cracked or damaged safety glasses limits their ability to adequately protect you from potential eye damage, as the structural integrity of the safety glasses will be compromised. If your safety gear is compromised, inform your supervisor and do not work with damaged safety equipment.

Know Where The Nearest Eyewash Station Is
If you get chemicals in your eyes, go to the eyewash station immediately. It can be exceptionally difficult to find the eyewash station if your vision is impaired, so always take note of where the station is when you enter a new work site. If corrosive or caustic chemicals get into the eyes, they can cause severe damage very quickly, and the best way to prevent the corrosion of the eye is to wash your eyes for the recommended 15 minutes. Washing your eyes for less time may not remove enough chemicals and corrosion can continue. When you wash your eyes, ensure you keep your eyes open the whole time and that you look in all directions to adequately reach all areas of the eye. Once you’ve washed your eyes, go to the emergency room right away.

Receive Vision Testing
Working while you have poor vision can lead to eye emergencies and other risks that can affect your overall health. Regular eye exams are an important part of avoiding workplace injuries while also assessing your overall eye health. If your company doesn’t already offer insurance coverage, ask your workplace about providing eye exams or vision testing as a safety precaution.

Visit An Optometrist For Eye Emergencies

If for any reason you do suffer an eye emergency, visit an optometrist or the ER immediately. The sooner you receive treatment, the more likely it is to save your vision. Visiting an optometrist for eye emergencies offers proactive diagnosis and treatment that will prevent vision loss, reduce the risk of spreading contagious infections, decrease your pain and discomfort, and allow for quicker healing. Do not attempt to assess or treat eye emergencies yourself, as this can lead to further damage.

For emergency eye care, visit Market Mall Optometry in NW Calgary. If you are experiencing an eye emergency of any kind, contact us immediately at 1-403-286-4884. For non-emergency inquiries, you can contact Market Mall Optometry by filling out the online contact form.


Q: How much will emergency eye services cost if I don’t have insurance?
A: Alberta Health Care covers all emergency eye care costs for people of any age.

Q: What counts as an eye emergency?
A: Eye emergencies are any eye trauma or sudden onset of symptoms that affect vision, causes pain, or triggers sudden and/or intense vision changes. Sometimes eye impact will cause a partial retinal detachment or other eye injuries that do not immediately present. Read Eye Injury Prevention Month: Which Eye Injuries Require Emergency Care for more information. If you suspect you have an eye emergency, it is always best to go to the optometrist to check.

Q: Can an eye doctor help with my eye emergency or should I go to the emergency room of a hospital?
A: An eye doctor can absolutely help manage eye emergencies. Eye doctors are trained to treat eye emergencies and can provide proactive diagnoses and treatment that will prevent vision loss, reduce the risk of spreading contagious infections, decrease pain and discomfort, and allow for quicker healing. The emergency room can also handle eye emergencies. It is better to go to whichever you can get to easily and quickly.

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