Your vision is both a critical and essential part of many daily activities in both the workplace and in your personal life. It is an important part of everyday communication, working, and general quality of life, it is very important to protect your eyesight from potential dangers such as UV Radiation. UV Radiation, or ultraviolet radiation, is primarily sourced from sunlight, but can be found from a number of other sources. UV Rays can cause damage to your eyes in a number of ways, including:
- Cataracts: clouding of the eye’s natural lens
- Pterygium: growth on the eye that can block vision
- Corneal Sunburn: high short-term exposure to UV-B may cause temporary vision loss
- Macular Degeneration: leading cause of severe vision loss, occurs when small center portion of the retina (macula) deteriorates
- Cancer: skin cancer has been linked to UV-A and UV-B radiation, this includes cancer around the eyelids
There are a number of devices that can emit varying levels of UV Radiation that are commonly used in certain jobs, including:
- Welding equipment
- Fluorescence equipment
- Mercury, Metal halide, Black light, or Phototherapy lamps
- Carbon, xenon, and other arcs
- Counterfeit currency detectors
- Tanning lamps/beds
This means that preventing UV Radiation damage is more than just wearing sunscreen or sunglasses, workers can be subjected to strong or consistent levels of UV Radiation that require other controls or equipment. Prevention of eye damage from UV Radiation can be broken down into Engineering Controls, Administrative Controls, Personal Protection, and Natural Prevention from the sun which includes sunglasses or goggles, artificial or natural shade, and limiting exposure during hours where the sun is intense.
- Contain or confine the UV radiation to a restricted area when possible.
- UV radiation can be entirely blocked with materials such as cardboard or wood, or partially blocked with materials including glass, PVC, perspex acrylic, and plexiglass.
- High power sources of UV should have interlocked access, ensuring that it is shut off when the protective enclosure is open or protective equipment is not in use.
- If UV radiation cannot be contained, exposure to workers should be minimized by increasing distance between workers and the sources, as well as by limiting exposure times.
- Use appropriate warning signs in areas where there is high exposure to UV radiation.
- Eyewear such as goggles, face shields, and welding shields.
- Closely-woven, long-sleeved clothing that covers as much of the body as possible.