Workers Compensation for Eye Injuries, Vision Loss, and Blindness – How to Get a Workers Comp Eye Injury Settlement in Virginia


Though you may not hear about them much, job-related eye injuries are common and devastating. Because eye damage is difficult to repair, many workplace eye injury victims are left with permanent vision loss, partial blindness, or complete loss of sight. This vision loss may be due to a traumatic brain injury, chemical exposure, flying debris, or any other type of workplace accident. No matter the cause, the injured worker is left with a medical condition that will affect them for the rest of their life.


This article provides an overview of workplace eye injuries and vision loss claims under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. If you or a loved one has suffered vision loss or blindness, or if you require extensive medical treatment because of a work-related eye injury, keep reading to learn more about your rights under Virginia workers compensation. Then call work injury lawyer Corey Pollard for a free consultation: 804-251-1620 or 757-810-5614. We can help you negotiate a fair workers compensation settlement that takes into consideration your wage loss, permanent vision loss, and medical needs.


Common Workplace Accidents that Cause Eye Injuries, Vision Loss, and Blindness


There are a number of different work-related accidents that can cause impaired vision, blurred vision, partial blindness, or total blindness. We often help construction workers who have suffered an eye injury on the job, but blindness can affect any type of worker who is exposed to:


  • Fire
  • Explosions
  • Chemical burns
  • Flying debris from tools and worksites
  • Falling objects, including shattered glass
  • Direct trauma to the face
  • Car Accidents
  • Small particles getting into the eye
  • Looking at a UV source without proper protection while welding


Common Types of Eye Injuries in the Workplace


Work-related accidents cause many types of eye injuries, including:


  • Acid burn
  • Alkali burn
  • Blindness
  • Corneal abrasion. This is a scratch on the cornea, often caused by a foreign object.
  • Corneal ulcer. If an abrasion to the eye is left untreated it can turn into a sore or ulcer. This is a painful condition that can lead to blindness.
  • Detached retina
  • Eye infection
  • Hyphema. This is bleeding in the anterior chamber of the eye between the cornea and iris, often caused by blunt trauma.
  • Puncture by a sharp object
  • Traumatic iritis. This is inflammation of the colored part of the eye due to direct trauma.
  • UV burn and radiation injury to the eye
  • Vision loss due to an orbital bone fracture


Any bleeding in the eye after a blunt trauma, such as that caused by a foreign object in the eye, can cause pressure buildup that leads to permanent damage and vision loss. You may require multiple surgeries to remove the object and replace your eye’s natural lens.


Common Workplace Eye Injury Symptoms


Seek medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms below while working or after leaving the job site. The sooner you receive treatment, the better. Common symptoms include:


  • Bleeding in any part of the eye
  • Changes in vision
  • Feeling like something is in the eye
  • Inability to close the eye completely
  • Light sensitivity
  • Reduced field of vision
  • Swelling around the eye socket


Proper Eye Protection Can Prevent Workplace Eye Injuries


Wearing safety glasses, safety goggles, face shields, and other types of eye protection can help prevent many accidents.


Protective glass lenses can be used around chemicals without damage. If your job requires precise vision, however, large glasses can become uncomfortable. Further, you may want to try different types of eye protection if you work outdoors in a hot or humid environment. Glass lenses can fog easily, obstructing your vision and increasing the risk for other work injuries.


Plastic lenses are lighter and more comfortable than glass lenses, and they usually don’t fog. But plastic is not scratch resistant and may not offer adequate protection around some industrial chemicals.


Polycarbonate lenses offer many of the advantages of plastic lenses and can be used by welders, but they are not as scratch resistant as glass lenses.


Even with proper eye protection you may still suffer a serious eye injury on the job requiring hospitalization and follow up care and resulting in temporary or permanent vision loss.


For example we obtained a workers comp eye injury settlement for an injured employee who was wearing eye protection while working on a scaffold. Unfortunately a coworker cut a piece of metal next to him and a metal splinter flew through an opening in the side and injured his eye. Despite our client taking proper safety precautions to protect his vision, he still suffered a eye injury on the job. Fortunately we were able to get him fair compensation.


How Does Virginia Workers’ Compensation Calculate Permanent Vision Loss or Blindness?

Virginia Code Section 65.2-503 covers loss of vision or blindness due to a work-related accident. This is the same code section that provides for permanent partial disability payments for other injured body parts.


Vision loss in an eye is compensated at 100 weeks of disability benefits multiplied by your percentage impairment. For example, let’s say your pre-injury average weekly wage is $600. That means your compensation rate for temporary total disability is $400 per week. If you have 100% loss of vision in your right eye, or complete blindness in the injured eye, then you would receive $40,000.00 for your vision loss. If your doctor gives you 10 percent loss of vision in your right eye, then you would receive $4,000.00 in disability benefits.


The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission calculates loss of vision by measurement of deviation from normal of vision fields, visual acuity, and ocular motility. When determining the percentage impairment to assign you for your vision loss, the Commission uses Snellen’s Chart, which is found at Rule 13 of the Rules of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.


The Snellen Eye Chart was developed by Hermann Snellen, a Dutch eye doctor, in the 1800s. It measures the loss of visual acuity. If you’ve had an eye exam before, then you’ve likely seen the Snellen Eye Chart. It is the chart that your eye doctor asks you to read no the wall. Below is the breakdown of how the Commission determines vision loss in Virginia work comp claims:


Snellen’s Chart Readings Percentage of Loss of Visual Acuity
20/20 0
20/25 5
20/30 10
20/40 20
20/50 25
20/60 33 1/2
20/70 40
20/80 50
20/90 62 1/2
20/100 75
20/110 80
20/120 85
20/130 87
20/140 89
20/150 91
20/160 93
20/170 95
20/180 97
20/190 99
20/200 100


A Virginia Workers Compensation Attorney For Your Eye Injury on the Job


If you’ve hurt your eye at work, you must see a doctor right away to try to prevent permanent vision loss. Even if you think the injury is minor, seek medical attention immediately.


After you’ve received medical care contact a workers comp attorney to help you get every penny and medical treatment you’re owed. Though your eye injury may seem straightforward, you may have an uphill battle to get all the types of workers compensation benefits you deserve. Many insurance companies dispute everything when it comes to work-related eye injuries because the treatment is so expensive and the damage is often permanent. But Corey Pollard can help you and your family if you’ve suffered an eye injury, vision loss, or blindness in Richmond, Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Fairfax, Roanoke, Charlottesville, or elsewhere throughout Virginia.