Contact Lens Use in a Chemical Environment – Current Intelligence Bulletin 59 – CDC
Since 1978, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that workers not wear contact lenses during work with chemicals that present an eye irritation or injury hazard [NIOSH 2004].
This policy was recommended by the 1978 Standards Completion Program and is based on the “best professional opinion of the committee membership based on literature data” [NIOSH 1978].
The policy was also consistent at that time with general industry practice, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, and recommendations of professional groups such as the American Chemical Society.
Recently, a number of groups have issued new guidelines that remove most previous restrictions for wearing contact lenses in the industrial environment.
These groups include the American Optometric Association, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Chemical Society, and Prevent Blindness America.
NIOSH has reviewed these new guidelines as well as the limited literature on the use of contact lenses in a chemical environment and the potential absorption and adsorption of chemicals by contact lenses.
In addition, NIOSH has reviewed company policies on contact lens use and injuries involving contact lenses among a small number of chemical manufacturing firms.
Some of these companies continue to restrict contact lens wear in their work settings, but others have relaxed their restrictions.