Your PPE Protocol Isn’t Strong if Protective Eyewear Isn’t Part of It

Oct 25, 2022 8:00:00 AM
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Closing the Gap: The Need for Protective Eyewear

Healthcare professionals often overlook the importance of wearing protective eyewear.

Our eyes are two of the most important parts of our body, but when it comes to protecting them, we sometimes fall short. The discussion around personal protective equipment (PPE) was thrust into the spotlight during COVID-19 and while most of the talk centered around surgical masks, gloves, and isolation gowns, protective eyewear should certainly have been a bigger part of that conversation.

A recently published study reports that out of 345 healthcare workers who sustained a significant occupational exposure to patients with COVID-19 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, 55.8% were nurses. The majority of reported exposures occurred in the hospital setting, with only a third occurring in COVID-19 units. In non-COVID-19 units, the exposure risk was often attributed to not wearing appropriate eyewear protection.1

Blocking Pathogens from Entering Your Eyes

There are numerous ways pathogens can enter your body through your eyes. It can happen from blood or body fluid splashes, touching your eyes with contaminated hands, or walking into an area where cough droplets are still in the atmosphere. The list goes on and on.
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According to Amber Hogan Mitchell, DrPH, MPH, CPH, the president and executive director of the International Safety Center, nurses sustain the largest percentage of blood and body fluid splashes in acute care settings in the United States. This figure comes in at about 50% and is disproportionately higher compared with all other healthcare professionals.2

Furthermore, an alarming number of incidents involving unprotected skin and either blood or body fluid splashes visibly contaminated with blood occur to the nurse’s face (83.4%), with fully two-thirds of those occurring to the eyes. Therefore, it is recommended that healthcare workers wear eye protection whenever exposure to body fluids or infectious viruses and bacteria can occur, not just when it is likely to occur.2

The Dangers of Not Protecting Your Eyes

The entry of pathogens through the eyes can not only cause potential illness but also lead to temporary or permanent pain or injury. There are a multitude of diseases that have been documented to be transmissible through eye exposure: HIV, hepatitis C, and Ebola, to name a few.2splash-protection-eyewear-ppe-tidi-productsKnowing this, are most nurses wearing eye protection? Unfortunately, no, according to Mitchell. Of the nurses who reported any kind of blood and body fluid exposures, only 8.1% said they were wearing eye protection. The figure is even lower when it comes to exposure specific to the eyes, with only 1.7% saying they were wearing eyewear-specific PPE at the time.2info-eyewear-graphic-tidi-products

What You Can Do

Simply put, educate people on the topic. Protecting your eyes should become standard in every healthcare organization’s PPE protocol. The types of harm that could potentially come from pathogens entering the eyes should not be overlooked.

At TIDI, we understand this reality and offer solutions to help. Our TIDIShield® Grab ‘n Go™ Eye Shields make wearing this critical form of PPE easier than ever before. These eye shields come pre-assembled in a gravity-fed tower that quickly and reliably dispenses eyewear whenever needed at the point-of-care (free samples available). They can also be coupled with our TIDIShield Face Shields, which easily fit over your protective eyewear and wrap around your face for added protection.

SOURCES
1. Shah VP, Breeher LE, Hainy CM, Swift MD. Evaluation of healthcare personnel exposures to patients with severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) associated with personal protective equipment. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2022 Jun;43(6):770-774. doi: 10.1017/ice.2021.219. Epub 2021 May 12. PMID: 33975656; PMCID: PMC8144829.
2. https://www.myamericannurse.com/splash-safety-protecting-eyes/ Accessed online: October 2022.

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