Carter Craig, Attorneys at Law

March is dedicated to eye injury awareness

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Many Virginia residents have jobs that put their eyes in danger. Construction workers are required to wear eye protection, but other types of jobs can harm to eyes, especially ones that involve spending long periods of time working on a computer. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has designated the month of March for encouraging people to take care of this essential body part and use appropriate protection at work or whenever their eyes are at risk.

According to the AAO, workplace eye injuries affect about 2,000 workers in the United States each day and cost $300 million annually for treatment, compensation and lost productivity. It is estimated that 90 percent of these injuries could be prevented with proper eye protection.

While it may seem obvious that workers in some industries need to wear eye protection, it is equally important that the equipment is the correct type and worn consistently and properly. The AAO states that all eye protection must be OSHA-compliant and approved by the American National Standards Institute.

Those who work in office settings need eye protection as well. Looking at a computer monitor or other type of digital display causes someone to blink as much as 50 percent less than normal, which can lead to dry, irritated eyes. Computer monitors should be positioned at arm's length and, if necessary, fonts should be enlarged for easier reading. The light in a room should be as bright as the computer monitor; otherwise, the eyes have to work harder. The AAO recommends that computer users take a break every 20 minutes by looking away from the monitor at a distant object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Failure to wear eye protection could lead to a work injury, and when this occurs, an employee may be entitled to workers' compensation no matter who was responsible for the lack of protection. An injured worker has the option of either filing for workers' compensation or filing a personal injury claim against his or her employer. A personal injury claim could be successful if the employer was negligent by not following safety rules that are required by law and this inaction caused the workers' injury.

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