Wearing a mask is almost second nature to most medical professionals, especially when involving a surgical procedure or assessing a patient with clear signs of respiratory illness. However, as quick as you and your team might be to don a mask, donning eyewear protection seems to be less intuitive. Protective face and eyewear should be used hand in hand with your mask, gown and gloves to increase the prevention of infection.
Protective eyewear plays a key role in preventing potentially dangerous splashes, sprays and respiratory droplets from coming in contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes. Masks have been used by medical staff members for decades, yet the idea of using protective eye shields has not been a behavior practiced with the same frequency. However, protective face and eyewear is necessary for preventing infections due to splashes which occur frequently in the ER as well as other departments.
According to the CDC, infectious diseases that are transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eye can be far more serious than one might expect. Literature reports infections such as Staphylococcus aureus and viruses such as hepatitis B and C and human immunodeficiency virus are risks. Exposure to the mucous membranes of the eye can occur from aersol droplets from a patient with a heavy cough or sneeze, spatter from suctioning and/or irrigation as well as blood splashes. Often the splash exposure is unnoticed by the healthcare professional. Additionally, in situations where reusable eyewear is worn to reduce splash risk, the risk of infection still remains due to the inability to successfully decontaminate the reusable eyewear.
In fact, the study, The Role of Eyewear in Infection Prevention: The Reality of Eyewear Contamination Levels concludes that, “Reusable eyewear, or eyewear with reusable components, may pose a risk of carrying ongoing bioburden, due to an inability to disinfect all surface details, and thereby may increase risk…”. The study reveals that 95% of reusable eyewear tested positive for microbial contamination after use and nearly 75% still tested positive even after standard decontamination.
Although medical teams are compliant in wearing masks, they are less so when it comes to face or eye protection. Part of the reason can often be ease of use, comfort and even accessibility. Finding ways to overcome these non-compliance issues must address all of these points in order to increase user buy-in. Some of the features to look for in protective face and eyewear should therefore include:
- Highly effective in providing a barrier from splash, spray and splatter
- Comfortable to wear
- Easy to don
- Point-of-use availability
- Ideally disposable to avoid cross-contamination
- Fog free for clear vision
Protective Face and Eyewear
The good news is that there have been many advances in disposable eyewear products and, when worn with face masks, provide excellent face and eye mucosal membrane protection. To enhance compliance with protective eyewear use, TIDI Products has introduced the TIDI TowerTM. The TIDI Tower is a convenient dispenser system that can be strategically placed in easily mounted wall holders near face masks and other PPE for easy access by staff. The TIDI Tower dispenses the comfortable TIDIShield™ Grab 'n Go™ fully assembled, disposable eye shields. Another product offered for use is the TIDIShield Flip 'n Go™ Eye Shields, which are also available in convenient dispensers designed to improve compliance and safety.
With these options, it can and has become easier to stay compliant when it comes to donning protective eyewear in medical institutions. Just remember that when you reach for your masks, reach for protective eyewear too.