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Work-Related Eye Injuries and Illnesses - Article
ABSTRACT: More than 65,000 work-related eye injuries and illnesses, causing significant morbidity and disability, are reported in the United States annually. A well-equipped eye tray includes fluorescein dye, materials for irrigation and foreign body removal, a short-acting mydriatic agent, and topical anesthetics and antibiotics. The tray should be prepared in advance in case of an eye injury. Eye patching does not improve cornea reepithelialization or discomfort from corneal abrasions. Blunt trauma to the eye from a heavy object can cause a blow-out fracture. Sudden eye pain after working with a chisel, hammer, grinding wheel, or saw suggests a penetrating globe injury. Chemical eye burns require immediate copious irrigation. Nontraumatic causes of ocular illness are underreported; work-related allergic conjunctivitis increasingly has been recognized among food handlers and agriculture workers who are exposed to common spices, fruits, and vegetables. The patient's history of eye injury guides the diagnosis. Primary prevention and patient counseling on proper eye protection is essential because over 90 percent of injuries can be avoided with the use of eye protection. As laser use increases in industry and medical settings, adequate personal protection is needed to prevent cataracts. Outdoor workers exposed to significant ultraviolet rays need sun protection and safety counseling to prevent age-related macular degeneration. Contact lenses do not provide eye protection, and physicians should be familiar with guidelines for the use of contacts in the workplace.