May is a busy month. In addition to being Mental Health Awareness Month and National Electrical Safety Month, May is also Healthy Vision Month.

Approximately 37 million adults in America have vision problems, which include age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma, all of which can cause visual impairment or blindness.

Workers are at special risk of eye injury. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is partnering with the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute (NEI) to highlight eye health and safety in the workplace.

“The workplace and the type of work we do have a critical influence on eye safety and overall health," according to a recent NIOSH Science Blog post.1 “While workers have a vested interest in safeguarding their eyes, employers have a legal and ethical responsibility to keep workers safe from hazards, including those that may impact vision. Every day, about 2,000 US workers receive medical treatment because of eye injuries sustained at work.”

Those injuries can come from objects striking the eye, blunt force trauma or chemical and thermal burns. Through the mucous membranes of their eyes, workers may be exposed to bodily fluids that contain bloodborne pathogens.

NIOSH says workplaces that are poorly designed or maintained and inadequately lighted can increase the potential for eye injuries (and other kinds of injuries). Likewise, poor or declining vision can lead to work-related injuries, including traffic incidents and slips, trips, or falls.

Click here to read tips for Employers and Workers on how to prevent eye injuries.

For more on NEI’s Healthy Vision Month campaign, visit their website.

1. Authors: Michelle Lee, BA; Sydney Webb, PhD; L. Casey Chosewood, MD, MPH; James Grosch, PhD; Juliann Scholl, PhD; and Chia-Chia Chang, MPH, MBA: