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Guide and Recommendations for Eye Protection Eye protection is a critical form of infection control for members delivering

First Aid Services. When working in the field there is a risk that bodily fluids from casualties may be sprayed into the treating or assisting members eyes. Using eye protection should become as natural to members as wearing gloves or washing their hands. Infectious diseases can be transmitted through various mechanisms, among which are infections that can be introduced through the mucous membranes of the eye (conjunctiva). These include viruses and bacteria that can cause conjunctivitis (e.g., adenovirus, herpes simplex, Staphylococcus aureus) and viruses that can cause systemic infections, including blood borne viruses (e.g. hepatitis B and C viruses, human immunodeficiency virus), herpes viruses, and rhinoviruses. Infectious agents are introduced to the eye either directly (e.g., blood splashes, respiratory droplets generated during coughing or suctioning) or from touching the eyes with contaminated fingers or other objects. Eye protection provides a barrier to infectious materials entering the eye and is often used in conjunction with other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, and masks or respirators. What types of eye protection should be worn? The eye protection chosen for specific work situations depends upon the circumstances of exposure, other PPE used, and personal vision needs. There is wide variety in the types of protective eyewear, and appropriate selection should be based on a number of factors, the most important of which is the nature and extent of the hazard. Eye protection must be comfortable and allow for sufficient peripheral vision and must be adjustable to ensure a secure fit. Contact lenses, by themselves, offer no infection control protection. However, contact lenses may be worn with any eye protection devices, including full-face respirators. Contact lens users should rigorously adhere to hand washing guidelines when inserting, adjusting, or removing contact lenses. How should potentially contaminated eye protection be removed? Eye protection should be removed by handling only the portion of this equipment that secures the device to the head (i.e., plastic temples, elasticized band, ties), as this is considered relatively "clean." The front and sides of the device (i.e., goggles, face shield) should not be touched, as these are the surfaces most likely to become contaminated by sprays, splashes, or droplets during patient care. Non-disposable eye protection should be placed in a designated receptacle for subsequent cleaning and disinfection.

How do I get some eye protection? Disposable eye protection is part of the standard St John kit list and should be carried and used by each member. If the member wears prescription glasses, then special over glasses can be sourced or prescription safety glasses can be purchased. Divisional Managers and Health Care Professionals should ensure that members are carrying and using eye protection. Can another member reuse my eye protection? Where possible, each individual worker should be assigned his/her own eye protection to ensure appropriate fit and to minimize the potential of exposing the next wearer. What should I do if I get an eye injury? The standard St John protocols should apply for members who have sustained an eye injury. Below are some key reminders. Specks in the Eye Do not rub the eye. Flush the eye with large amounts of water. See a doctor if the speck does not wash out or if pain or redness continues.

Cuts, Punctures, and Foreign Objects in the Eye Do not wash out the eye. Do not try to remove a foreign object stuck in the eye. Seek immediate medical attention.

Chemical Burns Immediately flush the eye with water. Open the eye as wide as possible. Continue flushing for at least 20 minutes. For caustic or basic solutions, continue flushing while on the way to medical care. If a contact lens is in the eye, begin flushing over the lens immediately. Flushing may dislodge the lens. Seek immediate medical attention.

Blows to the Eye Apply a cold compress without pressure, or tape crushed ice in a plastic bag to the forehead and allow it to rest gently on the injured eye. Seek immediate medical attention if pain continues, if vision is reduced, or if blood or discoloration appears in the eye.

Any injuries to members on duty need to be reported to Divisional Management and an incident report should be filed. More Information: For more information contact your Divisional, Regional or State Health Care Professional. Acknowledgement: Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ilan Lowbeer State Support Services Officer

Andy Craig State Professional Officer