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By Gary Evans, Medical Writer
Healthcare workers' unprotected eyes are the areas most frequently exposed to blood and body fluids, yet protective gear is the exception rather than the rule. It’s time to make eye protection easily accessible, and yes, cool to wear.
“The technology for eye protection has come a long way from the rigid, heavy plastic of a decade ago,” says Amber Hogan Mitchell, DrPH, MPH, CPH, president and executive director of the International Safety Center.
The center’s EPINet surveillance system collects occupational exposures to sharps injuries and other blood and body fluid exposures. According to EPINet data, 65% of all healthcare exposures are to the eyes. In less than 6% of the exposures, healthcare workers reported wearing some kind of eye protection.
Moreover, workers report that eye protection is frequently inaccessible when needed. Given these findings, Mitchell recommends making eye protection widely available and, where possible, giving workers reusable gear styled to appeal to their interests.
“I think the greater likelihood of increasing compliance is if people have a choice to wear something that best suits their personalities and their patients,” she says. “There are vendors that have eye protection that is slip resistant and really flexible."
In the same way that surgical hats are stylized to reflect hobbies and interests, Mitchell says, themed eye gear could improve compliance.