March is Workplace Eye Safety Month across the U.S. Despite the importance of eyesight, not everyone treats his or her eyes as he or she should. That might explain why between 2007 and 2010, there were 2.4 million eye-related emergency room visits nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Use this year's Workplace Eye Safety Month to reevaluate your relationship with your eyes and take steps to better protect these organs.
"Over 2.4 million people visited the ER for eye injuries from 2007-2010."
Here are a few helpful tips to keep an eye on the prize:
1. Be careful with computers
Between smartphones and PCs at home and on most jobs, many people spend a huge chunk of their days staring at screens. If you're among that group, Vision Source said you may be at risk for Computer Vision Syndrome, an ailment that leaves up to 90 percent of office workers with some level of permanent eye damage. Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome CVS. One of the easiest is following the "20-20-20- Rule": For every 20 minutes of work, take a 20-second break to focus on something at least 20 feet away. Frequent blinking can help maintain moisture and prevent redness and irritation. There are even things you can do with your monitor, like positioning it five inches below eye level or turning up the brightness to minimize harmful flickering.
2. Follow the rules
Depending on your job, you may be at an added risk for eye injury. While that is mostly true for workers in industrial settings, it's nonetheless also important for office workers. In 2014, the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health outlined a safety checklist for all workers to follow. One of the biggest dangers in the workplace is falling objects, which account for nearly 70 percent of work-related injuries. As a result, it's important to be wary of any potential hazards and to address any items or structures that can fall and cause injury. If you work in an environment with a lot of dirt and debris, avoid touching your eyes until you've thoroughly washed your hands.
3. Wear those sunglasses
Not only are they a stylish accessory, but sunglasses are also one of the most effective ways to protect your eyes in almost any setting. However, as the American Academy of Ophthalmology explained, you can't buy just any old pair of sunglasses, and you should approach this purchase carefully and deliberately. First and foremost, you want glasses that protect against 100 percent of all UV rays, which can harm your eyes via prolonged exposure. Though polarized lenses can make activities like driving easier by reducing glare, they don't block out UV rays. It's also important to consider the size of the glasses, and bigger lenses mean your eyes are more thoroughly protected. The color of the lenses doesn't matter, as light and darker lenses are equally effective.
"Eye exams can detect health conditions like MS or diabetes."
4. Get checked out
In discussing eye health and safety, the CDC suggested that all Americans undergo an annual eye exam. And while the number of people getting their eyes examined is on the rise, the International Vision Expo & Conference said that just 43 percent of people booked these yearly appointments in 2012. Not only are annual eye exams a way to track the progress of your vision, but they can also detect other health conditions or risks, as Shape magazine reported. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis and brain tumors.
As an extension of this, it's important to seek proper treatment for your eyes if they are ever injured. And that's when you can rely on your local CareWell Urgent Care Center. With dozens of locations across the Eastern Seaboard, CareWell's team of highly trained doctors can treat almost any eye injury, including pink eye and infections from contact lenses.