Should you wear contacts at work?

Certain professions may be more hazardous to your vision health than others. To help protect people involved in these environments, particularly industry jobs, the American Optometric Association released a statement in 1998 to provoke questions about vision hazards at work. The Association mandates that contact lenses themselves cannot and should not be used as protective eyewear. Other types of protection must be used (like goggles) to protect the eyes, whether a person wears contacts or not. In determining whether contact lenses present a risk in the workplace, the Association advises that people ask questions like, “Is the risk different for various contact lens materials and designs?” and “Do contact lenses decrease the efficacy of other safety strategies?

Doctors who prescribe contact lenses to patients involved in hazardous fields should also keep in mind certain factors, the Association says. For instance, a doctor should take into account what hygiene facilities are available, what raw materials are involved, whether protective equipment is provided and used, and what kinds of toxic chemicals/agents could be encountered on the job. In all, the Association found that “contact lenses may be worn safely under a variety of environmental situations including those which, from a superficial evaluation, might appear hazardous.”

Also, because there is no evidence to suggest that contact lenses negate the protection of safety equipment, the Association recommends that there be no ban on contact lenses in the workplace. This means you can feel confident about wearing your contact lenses to work, but be sensible when in hazardous environments, and never think of your contacts as protective eyewear.

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