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National Eye Institute (NEI)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 1, 2006


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Christina Bowles
and Fred Blosser
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Healthy Vision Month Observed in May
Focus on Eye Safety at Work is Everyone’s Business

Each day, more than 2,000 U.S. workers receive medical treatment because of work-related eye injuries, with more than 800,000 eye injuries occurring annually.

“To help promote eye health and safety at work, Healthy Vision Month 2006 will focus on what employers and employees can do to reduce the number of job-related eye injuries,” announced Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of vision research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Healthy Vision Month is an annual observance coordinated by the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the NIH each May to encourage Americans to make vision a health priority.

“Workplace injury is a leading cause of eye trauma, vision loss, disability, and blindness. The resulting visual impairment can interfere with a person’s ability to perform his or her job and carry out everyday activities,” Dr. Sieving explained.

John Howard, M.D., director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) said, “Simple improvements in workplace conditions and the use of the proper safety eyewear can greatly reduce the number of eye injuries. Identifying and removing or minimizing eye safety hazards is a critical part of a good eye safety program. Ensuring that workers have the appropriate eye protection for the job and that it is used are also key components.”

Many eye injuries occur because workers are not wearing the right eye protection, it does not fit, or they are not wearing any protection at all. Flying fragments of metal, wood, concrete and other building materials, along with windblown dust and debris, splashes from chemicals and molten metal, hot sparks, optical radiation, and even the everyday nail, are common workplace eye hazards.

“Eye safety should receive continuing attention in workplace education programs,” Dr. Sieving noted. “Procedures for handling eye injuries should be established and reinforced. Also, poor vision can affect work performance and safety. Workers should have a comprehensive eye examination on a regular basis to help maintain healthy vision, a first step in avoiding injuries on the job.”

NEI, NIOSH, and the National Safety Council are cosponsoring Healthy Vision Month this year, and are working in collaboration with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, Inc. Other organizations and businesses are also joining forces to make eye safety at work everyone’s business.

For additional information, photos, and other available materials, visit: www.healthyvision2010.nei.nih.gov/hvm.

The National Eye Institute (NEI) conducts and supports research that leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment. The NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, visit the NEI Website at www.nei.nih.gov.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the Federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, visit the NIOSH Website at www.cdc.gov/niosh.

Founded in 1913 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1953, the National Safety Council (NSC) is the country’s leading safety and health advocate and service provider committed to preventing accidental injuries in the workplace, on roads and highways, and in homes and communities. Council members include more than 48,000 businesses, labor organizations, schools, public agencies, private groups, and individuals. For more information, visit the NSC Website at www.nsc.org.

Established in 1942, the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, Inc. (AAOHN) is a 10,000-member professional association dedicated to advancing the health, safety, and productivity of domestic and global workforces by providing education, research, public policy, and practice resources for occupational and environmental health nurses. These professionals compose the largest group of health care providers serving the worksite. For more information, visit the AAOHN Website at www.aaohn.org.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.


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