Safety Goggles: A Mask For Your Eyes
If, just a few short months ago, someone asked any of us if we would be living in a world such as the one that we are living in now, it’s unlikely that any of us would have thought it to be possible. Reevaluating what’s needed to get through a crisis is definitely something that any intelligent human being should do. That’s why having a set of safety goggles is something that everyone should have.
In this article:
- Protecting Your Nose And Mouth
- The Eyes Can Have It
- What, Me Worry?
- Protecting Your Eyes
- We Can’t Just Close Our Eyes
Protecting Your Nose And Mouth
From day one of the coronavirus crisis we’ve all been told over and over again that the coronavirus travels through the air on our tiny droplets that we can’t help but expel from our noses and mouth when we sneeze or cough. A little later we found out that even speaking can produce the kind of droplets that can easily infect another person. And, as it turns out, the greater the volume of speech, the greater the opportunity to spread the disease.
One story from the early days of the virus had to do with a choir group in Washington state. It seems that one infected person went to a choir practice session and, within a couple of weeks, the vast majority of the choir members had contracted COVID-19 and four of them ended up dying from the disease. Scientists tell us that the reason for this is that the group gathered in a closed environment with poor ventilation and stayed there for hours. This environment allowed the droplets that were produced by the infected person to permeate the room and be inhaled by basically all of the members. This was because they were all singing which requires a great deal of inhaling and exhaling. Add to that the fact that singing causes the greatest amount of droplets to be expelled into the air and it’s easy to see how this tragedy unfolded.
Probably, the last part of the equation that became widespread knowledge is that the droplets containing the coronavirus can also enter our bodies by coming in contact with our eyes.
The Eyes Can Have It
Today, we have all seen images of medical teams as they fight to save the lives of COVID-19 victims in medical facilities all over the country and the world. And, the one thing that we probably notice as soon as the masks that they wear, is the protective equipment that you cover your nose and mouth if you are going to leave your eyes exposed to the droplets that can be used to protect their eyes. Yes, the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to fill the air in a hospital room with a COVID-19 patient.
One of the most frightening stories that was widely publicized is the case of the world-renowned virus and infectious disease expert named Dr. Joseph Fair. Many readers may have heard about his case since he was interviewed on many national media outlets from his hospital bed where he was recovering from a pretty severe case of COVID-19. In his interviews, he recounted how he was traveling on a crowded plane with a number of other medical workers who were on their way home after a tour of duty helping some of the hardest-hit areas in the initial phase of the pandemic.
The doctor said that he was wearing a mask and gloves throughout the flight but that he did not choose to wear any protective eyewear. His speculation is that there was at least one person on the flight who was carrying the virus and that, in such an enclosed environment, and for hours on end, microscopic droplets likely came in contact with his eyes.
He and other infectious disease experts say that this is a likely scenario in the sense that the eyes contain a high number of receptors similar to the amount contained in the upper nasal pathways and the mouth.
What, Me Worry?
Back in the early part of the year as the pandemic raged around the world many people reacted as one might expect in the face of an unknown and unseen enemy. We can all remember the stories of how people were grabbing up all the toilet paper and other things that they thought might end up in short supply. As it turned out there were some shortages that have been resolved and some that, to this day, have not. One of the things that many of us discovered in those early days is that a lot of things that we take for granted actually are made using two different processes.
The fact is that toilet paper and everything from soda to ketchup and well beyond are made and packaged in one way for consumer uses and in another way for commercial use. Clearly, we’ve all had to use public or workplace bathrooms, so we all know that the toilet paper with which we are provided in most of these places is of an inferior grade.
In short, what happened was that, as so many of us found ourselves in lockdown and staying at home, there was a great increase in demand for the higher quality toilet paper while the demand plummeted for the kind used in commercial use.
The bottom line here is that the run on goods that we thought we might really need was caused by fear of the unknown. And, in some ways, that was a good thing as it caused most people to take extra precautions which health officials now tell us was instrumental in helping to slow the spread of the virus.
Protecting Your Eyes with Safety Goggles
No person in their right mind would say that they don’t need protection for their eyes when it comes to being around activities that include flying small objects or dangerous chemicals. So, once it is understood that environments that could contain droplets that might be flying around or even hanging in the air there is no good reason to avoid using something that would keep those possibly infected droplets from making contact with the vulnerable membranes that make up the human eye.
Face shields are definitely a good way to do this but experts agree that this method would generally be more than what is necessary for use by ordinary citizens who are not knowingly in continuous contact with people who are affected with COVID-19. Beyond that, there are the factors including the high cost of suitable face shields and the scarcity of them being that they are much more needed by the heroic medical professionals who are using them to protect themselves in hospitals and other medical facilities all around the country and the world.
So, ruling out face shields for most of us, a more simple, effective, and far less costly solution can be found in the use of good quality safety goggles.
We Can’t Just Close Our Eyes to the Need for Safety Goggles
As discussed earlier in this article, it makes no sense to risk serious damage to our vulnerable eyes when working in potentially dangerous environments. This is even more true when the things that we are trying to keep out of our eyes is a virus that has already killed more than a hundred thousand people in the United States alone up to this point. The only real question is what type of eyewear will get the job done and is accessible to everyone.
The good news is that the only real requirements when it comes to a good set of safety goggles is that they fit properly, allow the person to see correctly and are shatter resistant.
Now, someone could just go down to the local hardware store to find a decent pair of protective goggles but what they might find there, if they can find them at all, is a selection of lesser-known brands which were designed more for keeping solid objects from flying into the eye more than allowing airborne and microscopic particles from getting behind them. This being the case it is recommended that people look for protective eye wear that wraps around the sides of the eyes and which are suitable for work in laboratories or similar facilities.
Further information on the subject can be found in resources such as the National Federation of the Blind, The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Optometry.
For resources directly related to quality eye protection and where readers can find them, we suggest starting with the safety goggles found here.