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Personal Protective Equipment

Course Number: 483

Protective Eyewear and Face Shields

Protective Eyewear must be worn by OHCP and patients to prevent the transmission of pathogens through the conjunctival mucosa either directly (e.g., splash, spatter, spray, or aerosols) or by touching the eyes with contaminated hands or other objects.1-5,15 Goggles, which are Class I medical devices, must fit snugly from the corners of the eyes across the brow and have solid side shields. Indirectly-vented goggles with anti-fog coating provide the most reliable eye protection.15

Personal eyeglasses and contact lenses are NOT considered adequate eye protection.15 Several different types, styles, and sizes of goggles should be made available to meet individual needs. Goggles that fit comfortably over prescription glasses are available and contact lenses may be worn with recommended eye protection devices. Contact lens users should vigorously adhere to hand hygiene guidelines when inserting, adjusting or removing contact lenses.16

While goggles provide effective eye protection, they do not protect other parts of the face. Face shields with high crowns and chin protection that wrap around the face to the point of the ears are recommended for infection control purposes.16 They should fit snugly and the foam brow-band contoured to the wearer. Since face shields are open from below, they are to be worn with surgical masks. Disposable face shields attached to masks do not provide optimal protection.

The front and sides of goggles and face shields are likely to be contaminated. However, the ties, ear-loops, and/or head-bands used to secure these devices to the head are considered “clean” and, therefore, safe to touch with bare hands. Following use, eye protection devices should be placed in a designated receptacle. Wearing gloves, these devices should then be cleaned with soap and water, disinfected with a hospital level disinfectant, rinsed with water, and air dried before reuse.2