Contact Lenses at Work
Contact lenses are small, thin discs made of a transparent material.
The outer surfaces are custom-shaped to correct or improve vision
and the inner side is carefully formed to fit the surface of the cornea
(the clear, front covering of the eye including the iris and pupil).
The risks associated with wearing contact lenses in the work
environment are based on the following:
• dusts or chemicals can be trapped behind the lens and cause
irritation or damage to the cornea or both;
• gases and vapors can cause irritation and excessive eye watering;
• chemical splash may be more injurious when contact lenses are
worn. This increased risk is related to the removal of the lenses. If
removal is delayed, first aid treatment may not be as effective and,
in turn, the eye's exposure time to the chemical may be increased.
The critical point to remember is that contact lenses are not intended
to be used as protective devices.
High Risk Area(s)
• exposure to chemical fumes and vapors,
• areas where potential for chemical splash exists,
• areas where particulate matter or dust is in the atmosphere,
• exposure to extremes of infrared rays,
• intense heat,
• dry atmosphere,
• flying particles, and
• areas where caustic substances are handled, particularly those used
or stored under pressure.
The major risks for soft contact lens wearers are from chemical
splashes and from hot, dry environments. Because of the high water
content of the soft contact lens, some chemicals can pass through the
lens and be held against the cornea by the lens itself.
A contact lens wearer working alone or in a remote area may be at
greater risk if hurt with an eye injury. The immediate removal of
contact lenses may be important and the injured wearer may be
unable to do this. Also, equipment (e.g., eyewash stations) and
qualified staff may not be immediately available which, in turn,
increases the risk of further damage.
Dislodgement or sudden loss of a contact lens is another problem.
The first complication creates sudden changes in vision quality due to
decreased visual acuity and blurring. These pose obvious dangers if
dislodgement should occur at a moment when sight is essential for
safety. The same problems could occur for wearers of glasses though
contact lenses may be easier to lose and are more difficult to re-
CSA Z94.3.1-09 Selection, use, and care of protective eyewear applies
on all oilfield sites
First Aid Only
For Contact Wearers
Removing contact lenses is NOT recommended when there is obvious
damage or injury to the eye. To do so may only result in additional
damage. The decision to remove contact lenses is actually a case-to-
case basis, and depends on the nature of the injury.
• When you provide care for a conscious person with eye injury,
make sure to ask if he or she is wearing a contact lens. Caring for a
person with contact lens is not as rare as what you might think. If
you need to remove the contact lens, you should:
• Wash your hands or wear clean gloves.
• Position one thumb on the lower lid and the other on the upper lid.
Keep your thumb close to the margins of the eyelids.
• Open up the eyelids and look for the contact lens over the cornea.
The contact lens slides easily with gentle movement.
• Move the lens over the cornea (if it is not in this position) and open
the each lid widely so that they touch the edges of the lens.
• Press both eyelids gently but firmly to the globe of the eye. Move
the lower eyelid so that it is barely touching the lens.
• Move the upper eyelid close to the edge of the lens so that both
lids are pressing on the globe.
• Gently press on the lower lid so that it moves beneath the contact
lens. This would cause the eyelid to pop out of the eye’s surface.
• Once the lens has tipped slightly, begin moving the eyelids
together until the lens is fully removed.
• Place the contact lens in a container with clean water or saline
solution. Label the container accordingly.
• Do not use force in removing the contact lens. If you see the
contact lens but cannot remove it, slide into the white portion of
the eyes. Contact lens can remain there safely until professional
help is available.
• In case of chemical burns affecting the eyes, do not attempt to
remove soft contact lenses. Wait for an experience emergency
medical technician to remove the contact lens. Usually, these
contact lenses can stay in the eye for several hours