How to Protect Your Eyes from Serious Injury

December 15, 2023

Here are some key points.

  • Using eye protection can save your eyes from serious injury from flying particles, chemicals, and pokes from branches.
  • Wear safety goggles, instead of safety glasses, when handling hazardous chemicals.
  • Immediately flush your eyes with water if they are exposed to chemicals.

Don’t neglect your eyes

Good eyesight is important in order to effectively do your job and to perform other tasks such as driving and reading. However, you may injure your eyes if you don’t properly protect them. Eyes exposed to airborne dust and debris can become itchy, irritated and uncomfortable. Exposure to toxic chemicals, pokes from plants and tree branches, harmful gases and vapors, and flying objects from equipment can cause serious eye injuries that may require medical treatment and lead to permanent damage. Excessive exposure to sunlight may lead to cataracts, which can impair your vision. You can save your eyes from serious injury by using the right equipment. Keep your eye protection clean and ready to use.

Man with chemicals splashing upper body

Splashes from toxic chemicals can result in severe damage to your eyes.

Man wearing goggles and a faceshield

Wear a face shield over your safety glasses or goggles in high chemical exposure situations.

Man using a string trimmer wearing safety glasses

You can protect your eyes from the sun by wearing tinted safety glasses and a hat when working outdoors.

Choosing eye protection

  • Most safety glasses have side shields or come in a “wrap-around” style that can protect your eyes from dust, particles, sharp branches, and flying objects. The lenses are made to protect against impact. The lenses are also designed to block out damaging rays from the sun.
  • However, when handling chemicals, safety goggles provide better protection than safety glasses.
  • When using safety goggles, make sure they fit tightly on your face.
  • In high chemical exposure situations, it’s important to wear a face shield over your safety glasses or goggles for skin protection.
  • Do not use sunglasses or reading glasses for impact protection. They will not adequately protect your eyes from flying particles.
  • Do not wear contact lenses when handling chemicals that can splash you in the face. This can be a risk, even if protective eyewear is worn over them. We recommend that you consult with a health care professional if you wear contact lenses and will be handling chemicals.
  • Replace broken or unsafe eye protection.

Treating eye injuries

  • If wood chips, dust or other particles get into your eyes, look down and flush out your eyes at the nearest eyewash station. If there is no eyewash station available, carry a squeeze bottle of water or an eyewash dispenser for use in case of an emergency. See your supervisor if you do not have one.
  • If a chemical gets into your eyes, immediately flush them, preferably with cool to lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical help. Continue to flush your eyes during the drive to the hospital. Chemical burns to the eyes require immediate medical attention.
  • Carefully review the material safety data sheet and the product label before you start the job for additional first aid instructions.
  • Apply cold packs to eyes that are hit by flying objects from equipment. If the injury becomes discolored, seek medical attention.

Other important eye protection tips

  • When working outdoors, try to position yourself according to wind direction so your eyes are not exposed to blowing dirt, dust and debris.
  • Protect your eyes from the sun, even when you are not working with chemicals. Do this by wearing sunglasses (or safety glasses if needed) that filter at least 90 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Be sure the label indicates that they filter both “UVA” and “UVB” rays. Also, wear a hat that can keep the sun away from your eyes.
  • Take care of your eyes at home as well as at work. Give your eyes a break when reading or watching television for long periods of time so you don’t develop eyestrain.
  • Be aware that household cleaners and other commonly used household products often contain chemicals that can be dangerous to your eyes.
  • Ask for eye protection that will fit over your prescription eyewear.
  • Remember that eye injuries can be very costly – both in terms of medical costs and in terms of permanent loss of vision.

Eye Safety Do’s and Don’ts


  • Wear safety glasses or goggles to prevent eye injuries.
  • Flush eyes with water for at least 15 minutes if chemicals are splashed into them.
  • Wear a face shield over safety glasses or goggles for skin protection in high chemical exposure situations.
  • Always report any eye injury, no matter how minor.


  • Wear safety glasses for chemical splash protection. Use safety goggles instead.
  • Wear sunglasses or reading glasses for eye protection from impact or particles.
  • Neglect your eyes at home and elsewhere off the job.
  • Delay in seeking medical attention if you injure your eyes. Remember that eye injuries can result in permanent loss of vision.

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