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Is Protective Eyewear For Nurses Necessary? Yes It Is, and Here's Why

Is Protective Eyewear For Nurses Necessary? Yes It Is, and Here's Why

Nurses, we love you. You are the true unsung heroes of the medical profession, and we know you give your heart, soul, and energy to your careers. We know how much the healthcare system relies on you, and that’s why it’s so important to keep you protected. 

You know all about personal protective equipment (PPE) and when you need to wear it. Your employer has rules that you follow to stay safe. However, when it comes to protective eyewear, there’s a massive gap in the system. 

Maybe it’s a lack of enforcement. 

Maybe it’s fatigue. 

Maybe it’s not having access to effective, comfortable protective eyewear that you don’t mind wearing for a twelve-hour shift. 

Regardless of the reason, protective eyewear is essential for nurses. Let’s talk about why you need it and discuss some new options you might actually want to use. 

The Profession

Unless you’re strictly a telehealth nurse, you’re probably around patients the majority of your day. Being around patients, whether they are sick or not, places you at risk of blood and bodily flood exposure or BBFE. 

BBFE’s can happen during any part of your routine patient care, in any type of setting. However, nurses in acute-care settings are most at risk of exposure. Anytime you enter your patients’ rooms, you are at risk of coming in contact with blood and/or bodily fluid. 

You may be required to don protective eyewear when you’re assisting in the OR, but it’s not just for splashes and splatters. Projectile objects are also a concern for nurses, and the OR isn’t the only place you can fall victim to something flying through the air. 

Rooms with combative patients, pediatric care settings, and even laboratories are places that can spawn projectiles that can lodge in your eye or shatter your corrective lenses. 

But I’ve Been Doing This For Years

You’re a professional, and your techniques are virtually flawless, but the longer you’ve been at your job, the higher your risk is for injury. This is mostly because you can become callous to the risks and determine that wearing PPE, especially eyewear, isn’t necessary. 

We get it. We also know you’re a data hound, so let’s go over the facts.

  • Nurses sustain the largest exposure to blood and bodily fluid in the entire healthcare industry—more than doctors, techs, or any other care provider. 
  • The majority of the exposure to blood and bodily fluid exposures that nurses encounter happen on their face, on or near their eyes. 
  • Only 8% of nurses who have had BBFE’s report wearing eye protection at the time of their accident. 

The statistics are eye-opening, no pun intended. The majority of the BBFE’s that nurses experience happens in patient rooms with direct patient contact. It may seem like a waste of time or energy to don your protective eyewear when you’re simply going in to check vitals, but these are the times when nurses are most vulnerable. 

To be fully protected, you need eyewear that you feel comfortable wearing during your entire shift, whether you’re filling out a report at the station or assisting a patient in their private room. 

How Protective Eyewear Works

Unlike your regular corrective glasses, protective eyewear is impact-resistant and splash-proof. You can’t rely on your regular eyeglasses to keep you safe. In fact, depending on your eyeglass material, wearing them without protective goggles could be dangerous because they could shatter. 

Protective eyewear protects your eyes on the sides near your temples, where normal glasses have a large gap. These side shields provide additional coverage along with top shields that protect the gap between your eyebrows and the frame of your glasses. 

Whether you are working with a sneezy pediatric patient or changing a bedpan (Where’s the tech when you need them?), protective eyewear helps keep you safe from getting anything in your eyes. 

What Are the Options?

Eye protection isn’t one size fits all or one style for all tasks. Based on your exposure risk, you’ll need different levels of protection.

Here are some of the most common options:

  • Full face respirators. Full face respirators work by covering your entire face with an airtight seal and closed oxygen source. These types of respirators are made to help keep you safe from breathing in airborne diseases, but their design makes them excellent eye protection as well. 

    Obviously, you’re not going to wear a full face respirator unless your employer (and OSHA) deem it necessary. 
  • Safety goggles. Safety goggles offer complete optical protection by fitting over your eye area and forming a seal. Most safety goggles are held on with an adjustable rubber strap that fits behind your head. 

    You can wear your regular eyeglasses with safety goggles, although it may be uncomfortable for you. Safety goggles are notoriously bulky, ill-fitting, and tend to have lenses that fog very easily. 
  • Face shields. Because of the discomfort associated with safety goggles, many nurses opt for face shields. Face shields offer full face protection, but unlike a respirator, they aren’t sealed. 

    Face shields block your face from projectiles and splashes from the crown of your head to just below your chin. Usually, they curl around the sides of your face, giving your eyes protection.
  • Safety glasses. The easiest and most convenient type of protective eyewear is safety glasses. Safety glasses fit on your face like regular eyeglasses, with arms attached to the frames that sit over the ears. 

    Safety glasses have side shields, but unlike goggles, they don’t have top shields, which can leave your eyes vulnerable in that area.

    You’ll also need to have safety glasses that are available in your prescription. While it may be possible to wear safety glasses over your corrective frames, it will be very uncomfortable and probably not effective

Which option is best? How about a combination of safety goggles and glasses?

Stoggles for Nurses

You need the protection offered by safety goggles with the comfortable and lightweight frame of safety glasses and Stoggles delivers. 

Our safety glasses protect like goggles with both side and top shields, wear like glasses with lightweight, polycarbonate frames, and look like your favorite specks with numerous style and color combinations available. 

Stoggles can make your psych ward night shift seem like a 9-5 case manager gig.

Each pair of Stoggles:

  • Is impact resistant 
  • Is ANSI Z87.1 certified for durability and protection
  • Has fog-resistant lenses (no more exposing your eyes to hazards while you wipes your lenses)
  • Comes with blue-light blocking coating, so you can protect your eyes while you care for patients and enter reports
  • Are available in your own custom prescription. We handle your prescriptions in-house, saving you time, money, and a huge hassle. 

Best of all, our glasses look good, because remember, we love nurses, and we know both protection and style are important to you. 

Great Spec-tations

You’ve got to protect your eyes no matter what you’re doing while you work. It isn’t worth the risk to expose yourself to spills, splatters, and anything else that could damage your eyesight or make you unhealthy. 

You make caring for patients, working long shifts, and dealing with hard situations look easy. Stoggles safety glasses make it easy for you to protect your eyes, feel comfortable, and look great. It’s a perfect partnership. 

 

Sources:

Splash safety— Protecting your eyes|International | Safety Center.org

Preventing blood and body fluid splashes and splatters | My American Nurse  

Personal Protective Equipment in Nursing: Its Purpose and Importance |  Ohio University

Occupational blood and body fluid exposure in an Australian teaching hospital | US National Library of Medicine

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