Warning; 3 Eye Injury Stories That Will Make You Wear Your Safety Glasses Right Now
There’s a simple answer to the question, why wear safety glasses? Um, your eyes are awesome. AND, they’re irreplaceable. So far, modern science cannot replace your eyes with a bionic version.
Thankfully, the medical profession is not the dangerous place of many other professions, but those who work with grinders, chemicals, and blood know the potential dangers of removing your safety glasses even for a minute. That is the exact minute when disaster strikes.
This will be the last warning you receive. What follows this intro are several true stories of eye injuries that were avoidable had the individual been wearing protective lenses.
The squeamish might prefer to skip ahead, reading only the subheadings on problems and solutions.
For the medical professionals who wear them and for the medical professionals who need to convince others to keep them on at all times, this blog is for you.
But, take heed, all: eye injuries are not pretty.
Chemical Splash Eye Injury
The first time Julie suffered a chemical burn to her eye, it was performing an everyday chore of pouring bleach in the washing machine.
The fact that this was an everyday chore is the big caveat in the story, but for all the innocence in her story, there are endless versions of technicians, medical or otherwise, doing the same thing with similar or worse results.
In Julie’s case, she’d forgotten to add the beach into a laundry load. To make up for the mistake, she thought it wise to pour the bleach straight into the washer, which was already agitating.
Other than not donning safety glasses, that was her BIG mistake. The splashing water spat some of the bleach back at her face, landing in her eye.
Julie was smart [lucky?] enough to have a faucet nearby and smart enough to use it immediately. She flushed her affected eye, but still required medical attention, which she saught right away.
Julie survived that incident only to repeat it with chlorine in the family pool five years later. Yes, the same eye.
After two cases, she now wears safety lenses every time she handles chemicals.
Problem: Rushing Syndrome
What Julie suffered was the I’m-just-gonna-quick-do-this syndrome of careless eye care. Ahem, twice.
Medical professionals who handle chemicals run this same risk when rushing, either because they’ve lost track of time or it’s quitting time.
What’s worse, commercially sold bleach and chlorine pale in comparison with some of the eyeball-eating chemicals used in medical labs.
Solution: Complete Eye Goggles
There is no complete protection for chemical splashes better than Safetyquip’s Foambound Prochoice goggles.
Glasses leave your eyes exposed on the top and bottom, which is better than nothing at all, but only effective in a direct splash. In Julie’s case, she might have still suffered ancillary spray after the splash ricocheted off the lenses.
The Safetyquip goggles would not look cool, not even sort of, but who’s trying to look cool when working with chemicals. “Cool” was never on the working with chemicals menu.
The legend of the flying metal staple
There is a story told over and over on the internet, which is now legendary in the annals of safety glass cautionary tales. In the story, there are two characters, a father, and a son.
In every case, however, the man has a son who is old enough to use power tools. Also in every version, the father encourages the boy to wear safety glasses when labouring.
The son reluctantly agrees to don a pair of protective lenses, which proves brilliant when sometime later, a staple fired from a gun ricochets off a metal plate and strikes the lenses of his glasses.
He suffers minor injuries, a bruise or two around his eye, but doesn’t lose his eye. His safety glasses, however, he must replace.
The staple pierced the lens of his glasses upon impact, saving his vision and teaching the impressionable boy a valuable lesson.At some time, this legend was a true story.
Problem: Impact rating
If your job has you (or your son) working with power tools like staple guns or in the case of a medical lab, more like a grinder, you need impact-rated safety eyewear.
According to Monash University, grinding-related activities caused about 17 percent of all emergency room eye injuries recorded in their database. Half of those were work-related.
The speed of projectiles launched from these machines is too fast to react, the damage too extensive to ignore.
Solution: ANSI Z87.1 standard rated protection
The ANSI is an American National Standards Institute rating, and the Z87.1 applies to the protective value of safety glasses.
Understand, there are no safety glasses which will protect your eyes from every type of projectile, but at the very least they shouldn’t make the situation worse.
For example, shattered corrective glass lenses could fling microscopic shards of glass into your eyes.
The sports safety glasses from Prestige offer more than a fashionable frame. They ensure blunt force impact protection from high-impact accidents with an ANSI Z87.1 safety rating. They’re also good for blocking splashes and droplets to some degree.
The Tasmanian boy who looked at a laser
According to a 2008 report from Safe Work Australia (SWA) on work-related eye injuries in Australia, around 14 percent of reported cases were due to burns.
That would include caustic substances, such as with Julie’s chlorine story above, but also from bright lights and heat.
The other form of eye burn not mentioned is ultraviolet radiation exposure. Most medical practitioners will not suffer sunlight exposure in the workplace, but they may come in contact with lasers or germicidal lamps.
Manufacturers of most medical tools produce them to reduce the actual risk within a manageable percentage of error, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.
As one teenager in Tasmania, we’ll call him “Billy,” learned firsthand in 2015, even toy lasers can cause damage. Playing with child’s toy, Billy aimed a laser at his eye, which caused him immediate vision distortion.
After reporting his problem to his parents, they took him to their family doctor. It was too late; the damage done.
In the end, Billy lost 75 percent of his vision in that eye. He’d burned his retina within a fraction of total dysfunction.
Problem: Eye Burn
What Billy failed to understand was that his curiosity wasn’t something he could back out of. More importantly, Billy’s parents failed to understand the dangers of his laser toy.
Faster than a projectile, light damages the eye without breaking the surface, without shedding a drop of blood.
For many of the people who suffer this type of eye injury, they don’t yet know the extent of the damage at the time the incident takes place. It’s only later when their vision doesn’t “come back,” that they learn what’s done is done.
For a boy like Billy, this means the rest of his life he will have to navigate this disability. For a medical professional, it could mean the end of someone's career.
Solution: proper filters
While it’s unlikely that a competent professional would ever take the same sort of chance taken by Billy, as evidenced by the story, damage can happen fast.
It was only a momentary flash with the laser, but that was it for 75 percent of Billy's vision in that eye. There is no un-ringing that bell once it’s rung.
Our solution? Hogie’s Grey Revo Eye-guard Safety Glasses. They come in four stylish colours and look pretty stylish for a safety lens. They’re also adjustable to accommodate unique faces, resistant to scratches and fog too.
What's more, they double as sports lenses and are great for driving on a sunny day. Had Billy been wearing a pair of the Hogies Grey Revos, he’d still have most if not all of his eyesight.