The 7 Most Common Workplace Eye Injuries And How To Avoid Them

eye injuries

Eye injuries are some of the most common injuries to occur in the workplace. They often happen quickly, require immediate action and can cause permanent damage if ignored.

Proper eye protection is the best way to prevent these injuries, and having the right prescription safety glasses for your situation can be the difference between safe, healthy eyes and permanent damage or even blindness.

Accidents happen no matter how cautious you are, so being aware of the different types of injuries and their symptoms can help you determine what actions to take next to preserve your eye health and vision.

Here are the 7 most common workplace eye injuries and how to avoid them.

Scratched Cornea

The cornea is the outer, transparent layer of the eye over the iris and pupil. If a foreign particle, such as small debris or dust, enters or is rubbed onto the eye, it can scratch or cause abrasions to the cornea.

This can cause severe discomfort in the eye, as well as redness, sensitivity to light and increased risk of infection. A scratched cornea is very common in workplaces where small debris is often in the air, such as construction, woodworking and metalworking.

Eye Bleeding

Eye bleeding, also known as subconjunctival hemorrhage, is when one or more blood vessels break between the sclera or white of the eye and the clear covering on the outside, causing a red patch to appear.

This often occurs during periods of high strain, for example, sneezing, lifting heavy objects or rubbing the eye too roughly.

Bleeding in the eye is common not just in workplaces but in everyday life. This injury, akin to a bruise, is often not serious and does not cause any pain, discomfort, or vision changes — only a visible red patch.

However, if the patch of blood does not fade and disappear within a few weeks, you start feeling pain or notice abnormal vision changes, it is best to seek medical attention.

Eye Swelling

Eye swelling, which does not involve the eye itself, is when the tissue and skin around the eye suffers from blunt trauma and starts to swell and often bruise.

You may be familiar with the term “black eye.” Any kind of forceful impact to the eye area can cause this, which is most common in workplaces that deal with heavy machinery, but it can occur in any setting. ANSI Z87.1 standards require high mass and high velocity impact resistance for prescription safety glasses along with recommendations for full frontal and lateral coverage of the eye including the sensitive areas around it.

This often causes pain and tenderness in the tissue itself and does not affect the eye, but it is best to seek medical attention in order to make sure there is no internal damage.

Eye Penetration

Penetration is when a foreign object such as a metal shard or splinter becomes embedded in the eye, whether in the interior or the outer layers.

This sort of injury can occur in a workplace with any kind of flying debris, especially if it is propelled with force. It causes pain, changes or loss in vision, bleeding and the potential for a variety of different kinds of damage to the eye. If you safety glasses come with removable side shields be sure they’re attached at all times on the job site.

This type of injury needs to be seen by a medical professional immediately, and it is imperative that you do not attempt to treat it yourself or try to remove the object, as this could cause even more damage than the initial injury.


Chemical Exposure/Burns

A wide variety of workplaces deal with hazardous chemicals on a daily basis, and if these substances come into contact with eyes, they can cause mild to severe irritation or injury.

Depending on the type of chemical, this can take the form of a burn, painful irritation, redness, eye watering, or other more severe reactions. But, don’t forget fine dust which is common when cutting and sanding wood.

Be sure to invest in a quality pair of safety goggles or “sealed” safety glasses. Look for the following ANSI Z87.1 markings on your safety eyewear: D3 = splash/droplet, D4 = dust & D5 = fine dust protection ratings. Our Pentax GT20 Goggles are rated for all three levels and can be fitted with prescription lens.

It is best to flush the eyes with water immediately after contact with the substance and to seek medical attention regardless of whether the irritation from the substance persists or not.


Iritis, which is inflammation of the iris or the colored part of the eye, can be caused by any number of things, including blunt trauma, chemical exposure, rubbing and contact with particles.

Iritis can cause pain in and around the eye, redness, severe sensitivity to light, abnormally shaped pupils, and vision changes or loss.

If not treated, this can result in permanent damage or even blindness. If any of these symptoms occur after an exposure or impact, seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent further injury.


A hyphema, which is bleeding between the cornea and the iris, can occur due to blunt trauma to facial bones and orbitals around the eye.

If an object hits these bones with enough force to fracture them, a hyphema will often result. This causes pain, a red hue to develop in the eye, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light. Here again, it’s important to ensure you’re wearing high impact resistant safety glasses with optimal side protection which may include side shields depending on the style of frame.

These injuries may be less common in workplace settings, however, if you are working with heavy machinery or anything that can produce this kind of force, it is something to keep in mind and attempt to avoid.

Make Sure You’re Protected

Though there are many things you can do to protect yourself, including becoming familiar with all possible risks and eliminating what hazards you can, each of these injuries can be mitigated or avoided entirely using proper eye protection in the workplace.

Having the best quality prescription safety glasses for your specificneedsandworkplacehazardsisthebestwaytokeepyoureyessafeandfunctionalwhen in potentially harmful environments.

And always remember that if one of these injuries occurs, seek medical attention immediately to treat them and prevent any further harm.

Find the perfect eye protection for you and your workplace in our extensive collection of premium safety glasses, and keep your eyes safe at work and at home!


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