There are an estimated 2.4 million eye injuries in the United States annually. Injury leading to blindness or impaired vision are potential outcomes of eye trauma. Up to 90% of this trauma should be essentially preventable with proactive eye protection.
As there are many individuals wearing corrective glasses or contacts, these do not offer protection from eye trauma. Your specific eye protection depends on your activity, from protests to paintball. In fact, the presence of glasses or contacts may further impact eye damage. Protective eyewear should be made from polycarbonate, as it resists shattering and can provide UV protection.
The most basic form of eye protection is the use of goggles. This safeguard includes security from impact, dust and chemical splash and protects the entire eye. Every household should have at least one set of eye protection, as many home projects or repairs put one at risk of eye trauma. For most projects around the home, standard ANSI approved eye protection is reasonable. They should be marked on the lens or frame with “ANSI Z87.1” to assure your protection meets the standards. This may include goggles, safety glasses or face shields. If you work in an environment with hazardous chemicals or substances, flying debris or small particles, or projectiles of any kind, you should be making proper use of protective eyewear. Most hardware stores carry appropriate inventory.
Sports related eye protection is specific to each activity. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has set standards for specific sports to prevent eye trauma associated with common trauma etiologies. As reported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, these are some specific eye safety standards for the following sports:
ASTM F803 – eye protection for racquet sports, lacrosse, field hockey, baseball and basketball
ASTM F515 – eye and face protection for hockey players
ASTM F1776 – eye protection for paintball sports
ASTM F1587 – head and face protection for hockey goaltenders
ASTM F659 – high impact resistance eye protection for Alpine skiing
For activities needing eye protection in an outdoor environment involving water or snow, make sure that there is the additional UV protection included in the device.
Work environments are evaluated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your human resources department should know if you have any specific requirements for your job. Commonly, the OSHA standard require the same ANSI-certified eye protection that you should use at home. Some guidelines for the type of protection depend on the hazard. Safety glasses with side protection or side shields protect around flying objects, particles or dust. Goggles are best for total protection for those handling chemicals. There are specially designed glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets working with hazardous radiation, welding, lasers or fiber optics. Many employers who have these exposures innate to employment will have eyewash stations strategic to the plant layout.
More information can found at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/eyefaceprotection/. This website provides an overview of OSHA requirements, including standards, hazards and solutions and additional resources. https://blog.ansi.org/2020/03/ansi-z87-1-eye-face-protection-standard-isea/#gref provides additional resources regarding the device standards. Prevention is the watchword for eye protection, as trauma can happen literally in the blink of an eye.
Bradford Croft, DO
East Flagstaff Family Medicine