Dentists and dental hygienists must observe proper eye protection during clinical practice. This does not only mean providing appropriate eye protection for their patients but also protecting their own eyes against splattering or splashing of blood, bodily or intraoral fluids, or other liquid or debris that may contaminate and irritate the eyes and also from all sorts of things that can cause eye pain and injury. Here are some ways to protect the eyes and to prevent or at least minimize the risks to eye-related pain, injury, and trauma in dental practice.
When providing oral health care, dentists, hygienists, and dental staff must follow standard precautions to ensure the safety of every patient. This includes providing patients with appropriate protective eyewear, especially when performing dental procedures that will likely produce splattering or splashing of blood, bodily or intraoral fluids, or other liquid or debris that may contaminate and irritate the eyes.
Dental professionals understand the importance of protecting their patients’ eyes from dental debris and fluid splashes and ensure that they are protected. But unfortunately, despite knowing the significance of proper eye protection in dental practice, most clinicians fail to protect their own eyes not only from splashes and possible contamination but also from all sorts of things that may cause eye irritation, injury, and trauma.
Apart from chronic musculoskeletal pains which are often caused by wrong body positioning and unhealthy work posture, many dental professionals complain of eye-related pain. Eye irritation, injury, and trauma are reported to be the second most common occupational pain dentists and hygienists experience, next to musculoskeletal pains like neck and back pain. These occupational pains do not only cause discomfort and irritation but they can also affect your productivity, work quality, and focus during dental clinical procedures. Eye pain, injury, and trauma can also negatively affect your overall health and can likewise lead to permanent eye damage. Serious work-related eye injury can even cause dental professionals to cut their career short. Thus, eye protection is highly needed.
Different ways to prevent, avoid, and minimize eye-related pain, injury, and trauma
Dentists and dental hygienists must observe proper eye protection during clinical practice. They must protect and take care of their eyes as much as they do with their patients’. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to protect the eyes and to prevent or at least minimize the risks to eye-related pain, injury, and trauma.
Use the right dental magnification optical aid
Magnification is needed in dentistry especially when performing clinical procedures that call for a higher level of precision. Most commonly, dentists make use of the typical dental microscope to gain an enlarged image of their work area. Though a dental microscope can help make the oral cavity bigger and clearer, it does not always fit the specific vision needs of the operator. This is why many dental professionals still complain of eye-related pain despite using a dental magnifying microscope.
Using the right dental magnification optical aid does not only allow a better view of the oral cavity but it also helps minimize occupational eye-related pain like headache, eye strain, and dry eyes. And since dental microscopes are made for general dental clinical use and are not customized according to the operator’s vision requirement, dentists and hygienists may need a more fitting optical magnification device like the dental loupes.
Dental loupes are portable magnification aid that produces an enlarged image of the field of view. It is either attached to a wrap-around strap that is worn on the head, attached to a frame or prescription glasses through a hinge mechanism, or embedded on the lenses of eyeglasses. Unlike the microscope, dental loupes are custom-made to ensure they fit the specific preferences and vision requirements of the user. They are also available in different magnification power and types. Dental loupes are customized according to the personal measurements of the user including interpupillary distance, prescription, and working distance. Having all these requirements satisfied can help you avoid eye strain and other eye-related pain.
Use protective glasses
If you are performing a dental procedure that does not call for the use of magnification optical aid, you can use a pair of protective glasses to keep your eyes protected against spatter and splashing.
Wear a dental face shield
The dental face shield can protect your eyes from possible splattering or splashing of blood, bodily or intraoral fluids, or other liquid or debris that may contaminate and irritate the eyes. Unlike a typical face shield, dental face shields are thicker, lighter, more comfortable to wear, and provides better protection and coverage. They also provide optimal visibility without fogging up.
Ensure proper illumination
Proper illumination is critical to every dental procedure. While the traditional overhead dental lamp provides illumination to the oral cavity, it is sometimes not enough to get your specific work area properly illuminated. Chances are, you will still have to exert more effort trying to keep your focus on the area you are working on so you can properly and clearly see it. This entails your eyes to do extra work which can add more pressure to the eyes as well as to the nerves and muscles surrounding the eyes. All these can cause eye strain and dry eyes.
You can, however, get rid of these eye-related problems by using a dental loupes light. This portable illumination device delivers a more focused, brighter, and higher quality light. You can use the dental headlight to illuminate hard-to-reach areas that the overhead lamp cant get access to. It works best when paired with the right dental loupes. With proper illumination and magnification, your eyes no longer have to suffer from extra pressure, thus, helping you prevent or at least minimize eye pain.
Dental debris and fluids can not only cause eye pain, injury, and trauma but it also increases your risks to bacterial and viral infections that may be spread through blood and other bodily fluids. Thus, you need to properly protect yourself against all these risks to ensure a pain-free practice and longer career life.