Having spent the last two months talking about sport and eyewear it got me to thinking when else should we potentially wear protective eyewear but possibly don’t always think about it?  The answer came pretty quickly when I had a gentleman in only last week who we sadly had to refer urgently to A and E having got a small piece of metal in his eye at work.

I am of course talking about the use of safety spectacles when working. Health and Safety now being an extremely hot topic I am sure you will not be surprised to hear that there is a whole raft of different policies, directives and standards available for different types of workplaces and eyewear protection.

Lenses used within an industrial setting have to meet strict criteria, one of these being the Steel Ball Impact Drop test.  A 5/8 inch steel ball weighing approximately 0.56 ounces is dropped from a height of 50 inches upon the horizontal upper surface of the lens.  In order to pass the test the lens must not fracture, the lens in considered to fracture if it cracks through its entire thickness or across a complete diameter into two or more pieces.

Assessment of required protective eyewear is normally carried out in the workplace to be able to identify areas of concern and evaluate the workplace risk.  This means that the vast majority of patients that we see in practice requiring safety eyewear have been sent by their employers and come armed with the information that they need for their glasses.

Welding goggles, for example provide a degree of eye protection while some forms of welding and cutting are being done.  They are intended to protect the eyes not only from the heat and optical radiation produced by the welding, such as the intense ultraviolet light produced by an electric arc but also from sparks or debris.  A full facemask may be required for arc welding.

Another good example is laboratory work.  A full face visor offers the best protection in working areas where high speed flying particles or chemical splashes are a risk, they give a wide are of protection and remain mist free though rapid temperature changes.  Where chemical splashes and vapour are a problem, full eye enclosure is the answer, this means unvented goggles.

On occasions though we do see patients in the practice who are either self-employed or what we term ‘men with sheds’ who need to discuss their eyewear with us.  When this occurs a detailed assessment of the patients requirements and the types of hazards that are associated with their day to day work.  Often we need to chat to the wives to best discover exactly what does go on in those sheds!

I have really enjoyed thinking slightly out of the box in order to write my last few articles, it really does make you remember you do only have one set of eyes and we need to look after them as carefully as we can.

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