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Updated occupational optometry guide to help curb eye injuries

Optometry Australia (OA) has produced a free occupational optometry and safety eyewear guide to help eyecare professionals prevent patient injuries in the workplace.

The 2020 Occupational Optometry Guide includes information on preventing occupational eye injuries, vision assessments, eye protection products, Australian vision and eye-protection standards and screening protocols. It also advises about eye safety consultations and how to conduct workplace screenings.

The 28-page booklet is an updated version of an earlier guide and is being mailed to OA members with the March edition of its Pharma magazine. It is also accessible to members only on OA’s website.

According to OA,  the guide provides a timely update on changes to safety standards and prescribing safety eyewear for use in general practice when encouraging patients to look after their eyes while doing DIY jobs around the house.

Results from OA’s own 2020 Vision Index report found 21% of Australians had sustained an eye injury through a DIY project at home, which might include building projects or mowing the lawn. However, only 12% always wear eye protection for such projects.

More than two million Australians work in construction, mining and manufacturing industries, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the market for eye protection in Australia is currently estimated to be worth half a billion dollars annually.

OA reported that eye injuries and resulting vision loss represent a major burden to society, with the direct cost of eye injuries in Australia estimated to be more than $155 million per year.

Occupational optometry

Occupational optometry encompasses more than just the prevention of occupational eye injuries, OA explained.

“Occupational optometry may seem straightforward but there are many legal, ethical and professional obligations that make it a complex process,” OA clinical officer Mr Luke Arundel said.

He said workplace screenings were a good way for optometrists to build their patient base. Employees who fail a workplace screening often go on to have a full eye examination and even employees who pass the screening often need correction for other non-work-related activities. They may also refer friends and family who need eye care services.

“Practitioners can also increase their job satisfaction by offering diversity and new challenges in optometric practice,” he said.

“Just like contact lens, therapeutic, behavioural and low-vision prescribing, occupational optometry provides a new area of expertise for optometrists.”

Occupational optometry includes vision assessments of employees, taking into account their vision requirements, workplace demands, and the evaluation of the visual characteristics of the workplace.