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DIY Eye Safety

DIY causes more than 30,000 eye injuries every year. So, it's crucial to know how to stop accidents and what to do when one happens.


Here are Eye Health UK’s top tips for DIY Eye Safety...

Before you start, check that you know how to tackle the job - if in doubt, call in an expert!


Choosing your safety goggles

- Eye protection is essential for many DIY tasks. Always wear the right protection for the job you’re undertaking. The team at your local optical practice can advise you about selecting prescription and non-prescription eye protection.

- When you buy eye protection for general DIY tasks, check it carries a CE Mark or EN 166 Mark. This ensures the safety goggles/spectacles comply with minimum British Standards. If welding, you must wear a proper mask which covers the whole face as well as goggles that conform to the Standard EN 169.

Click here for further information about safety standards for protective eyewear (supplied by Association of British Dispensing Opticians).

- Many accidents occur when goggles are lifted to ‘get a closer look’. Make sure that goggles stay on throughout the job. Take a break if you have to adjust your eye protection.

- If you require vision correction always wear prescription eyewear when DIYing.

- Wearing normal spectacles or contact lenses on their own does not offer sufficient protection from injury. Safety glasses /goggles are made using stronger and more durable materials than regular glasses to adequately protect against the dangers posed by chemical splashes, fumes, particles and high intensity light.

It is possible to wear safety goggles over your usual eyewear. However, always ensure the safety goggles/glasses are a comfortable and safe fit.


Caring for your safety eyewear

Check your protection before and after every job. Clean lenses and frames and replace scratched or cracked ones immediately. You should store all eye protection in a protective container when not in use. Make sure your protection fits. Eye protection should fit firmly but not tightly, sitting close to your eyes without the eyelashes touching the lens.


Common eye injuries

- The most common eye injuries among adults are caused by flying chips of wood or metal. Be careful when chiselling or hammering and when drilling into masonry, sanding wood, removing plaster, splitting tiles or concrete slabs, stripping paint, sawing, welding, laying insulation and painting ceilings. And, take special care when grinding, hammering and polishing. These generate small, high velocity particles which can penetrate an unprotected eye.

- Different accidents need to be tackled in different ways. For instance, what you do if a foreign body enters the eye depends on its size. Any foreign body needs medical assistance. However, a small splinter or liquid, such as a chemical, can usually be removed by flooding it with a saline solution.

Larger objects, like pieces of wood require urgent medical attention. Tackling an injury by rubbing the eye often makes it worse.


What to do if something goes wrong

1. Before you start, make sure you have first aid equipment and eyewash, you know where it is stored and it is easily to hand in case of an accident.

2. Do not rub the eye. This will make matters worse and increase the chance of further damaging your eye / vision. Get medical attention as quickly as possible.

3. Never wash a cut or punctured eye. Cuts should be bandaged lightly if possible. Abrasions will need hospital treatment with drops, ointments and a sterile pad over the eye for at least 24 hours. Lacerations are far more painful and may require drug therapy and eye ointment and stitching of any torn tissue.


If you have an out-of-hours medical emergency – a sudden and severe change in your vision, eye pain or trauma (eg: a foreign body entering the eye or exposure to a chemical substance) – you should contact your local eye accident and emergency service.

Find your nearest service here

NHS 111 is also available 24hrs a day, 7 days a week.

Optical practices in many parts of England now offer an NHS urgent eyecare service. Click here for more information and to find your nearest urgent eyecare practice.



For information only. Always seek individual professional advice from your local eyecare practioner.