Protecting Your Eyes At Work: What Can Go Wrong During an Outdoor Job?



There are a lot of things that can go wrong on a job site.

As opticians, we are familiar with, and usually experts of, protective units designed to shield the eye.

In this article, we look to explore the types of scenarios that can present in an outdoor working environment that exposes the eye to a greater risk of harm.

Please note that the information shared in this article is to be used for informational purposes only. Information in this article is not to be used as medical advice.

Contact emergency services if an accident occurs.

Contact your family doctor for any direct medical advice regarding an accident or injury.


Chemical injuries

Chemical injuries can be worrisome, and understandably so. They can occur nearly anywhere and arise in situations or conditions that you may not expect them. The table below outlines common chemicals that can be found at work, at home, at school, or at play.

The table was produced by researchers for the Oman Journal of Ophthalmology.

(Parul Singh,Manoj Tyagi,Yogesh Kumar,K. K. Gupta, and P. D. Sharma, 2013)


Judging by the list, you may encounter any number of different scenarios in your life that expose you to those common eye threats.

Be sure to spend time in any environment - whether it is at work, home, or play - to identify these chemical risks. Stay safe by handling them properly, placing them out of harm's way, or disposing of them as necessary.


What does the research say about immediate first steps following a chemical eye injury incident?

Here is what the Mayo Clinic recommends:


1. Copious irrigation

  • In other words, flush your eye with water.

  • Use cool tap water for at least 15 minutes.

2. Take out contact lenses

  • If they don't come out during the flushing, remove them yourself.

3. Don't rub the eye(s)

  • Doing so can worsen the injury or the effect of the irritant.

4. Seek emergency medical assistance

  • Call 9-1-1 or your local medical emergency line to receive assistance.


UV Exposure

Spending more time outside during the summer can be an excellent source of Vitamin D, but sun exposure can cause harm in more ways than just a sunburn on your skin. Research from the American Academy of Ophthalmology shows that UV radiation can cause significant harm to your eyes.


What are the risks?


There is a link that exists between UVA and macular degeneration, cataracts, pterygium, and other retinal damage. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, there are three subtypes of retinal damage that can occur from exposure to UV: structural, thermal, and photochemical.


So what can you do?


SkinCancer.org published an article that provides tips that help reduce your risk of developing eyelid cancer and also details the steps you can take to reduce the risk of disease of the eye as well:

  • Wear sunglasses all year round, making sure that manufacturer states 99 or 100 percent blocking of UV (UVA and UVB),

  • In the summertime, wear a hat with a brim (like a ball cap or a sunhat) to provide further shielding of harmful rays from your eyes,

  • Avoid direct sunlight as much as possible during peak summer hours (10am-6pm). And if you are in the sun, be smart with how you protect yourself!

What should you do next?

Make sure you listen to the See What We See podcast episode we had with Chantal Gravel regarding protective eye equipment.

You'll be happy you did!