Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.

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Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(7):1024

See related article on work-related eye injuries and illnesses.

What is a work-related eye injury?

A work-related eye injury is an injury that you get while at work. These injuries are most likely in people who work outside, in construction, or with machinery.

What is a work-related eye illness?

You may be allergic to things at work that make your eyes red and itchy. You can be allergic to food, dust, plants, and work materials. Germs at work also can irritate your eyes.

How can I prevent a work-related eye injury or illness?

You can prevent most eye injuries if you use the right eye protection (for example, goggles or a mask). Make sure they fit properly. If you work outside, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sunlight. If you work with chemicals, your workplace should have an eyewash system in case you get some in your eyes.

To keep from getting allergies or germs, wash your hands during the day and keep your work surface clean.

Get an exam every year to check your eyesight and to make sure your eyes are healthy.

When should I go to the doctor?

See your doctor if you have sharp pain in your eye or if you are hit in the eye with a heavy object. You may have something in your eye or broken bones around your eye. If a chemical gets in your eyes, splash or spray them with water and see your doctor right away.

If you have red, itchy eyes that feel better when you aren't at work, ask your doctor to test you for work-related allergies.

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