Are you “looking out” for your eye health?

Written by Heather Siler

Are you guilty of wearing your prescription glasses or readers without proper eye protection while treating patients? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clearly states that all dental clinicians should wear protective eyewear that features solid side shields or a face shield during any procedure involving aerosols, splashes, or sprays of blood or bodily fluids. Furthermore, patients should also be provided proper protective eyewear and mandated to wear it during procedures.

Safety eyewear forms a protective barrier from microorganisms for the mucous membranes of the eyes which is important because infectious diseases can be transmitted through these membranes. By not shielding your eyes, you are at risk for introducing bacteria, viruses, and even fungi into your body.

These infectious microorganisms are introduced into the eye from direct splashes, aerosols, or droplets generated from patient treatment. Aerosols are the most common form of contamination for the clinician. These contagious particles may also invade by touching the eye with contaminated fingers or other contaminated objects.

The Organization for Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates employers provide proper protective eyewear or face shield protection that complies with American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection regulations (ANSI).

Some important factors regarding eye protection include:

  • Safety glasses must be worn in the event of aerosols, blood splatter, body fluid exposure, or in the presence of chemicals.
  • Intermediate level disinfectant must be utilized to clean the eyewear after each procedure if contamination is suspected.
  • Masks with an attached shield and clip-on shields may be used in place of safety goggles.
  • If you wear prescription glasses, goggles that fit over the prescription glasses are effective.
  • Professionally fitted loupes may be used for eye protection.
  • It’s prudent to try many different types of eye protection before making a final decision. Make sure that you choose a brand that’s anti-fog, fits well, and is marked to ensure it’s ANSI approved.
  • Proper protection from UV light (curing light) must also be taken into consideration for the clinician and patient.
  • Each patient must be supplied with proper eye protection and mandated to wear it during procedures.