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Year : 1968  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 169-171

Industrial injuries of the eye

Madurai Medical College and Government Erskine Hospital, Madurai, India

Date of Web Publication24-Dec-2007

Correspondence Address:
G Venkataswamy
Madurai Medical College and Government Erskine Hospital, Madurai
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Venkataswamy G. Industrial injuries of the eye. Indian J Ophthalmol 1968;16:169-71

How to cite this URL:
Venkataswamy G. Industrial injuries of the eye. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1968 [cited 2021 May 8];16:169-71. Available from: https://www.ijo.in/text.asp?1968/16/4/169/37546

Incidence: The Deputy Director of Medical Services (ESI) Madras in­forms that in the Year 1966, the total number of injuries that occured in industries covered by Employment State Insurance were 7,280. Of these the number of eye injuries were 2,745, (i.e. 37.7%). In these eye in­juries some non-industrial cases like a coal particle getting into the eye while travelling in the train were also included. The Chief Inspector of Factories in U.K. reports that there were 2,96,610 injuries in 1966 in his country. Out of this only 10,824 were eye injuries, (i.e. 3.7%). The ratio of eye injury to all injuries seems to be definitely higher in our State. In the Eye Department, Erskine Hospital, Madurai, we get nearly 5000 injuries every year. Our total cases seen in a year is roughly 40,000. It works out to 12.5% of eye diseases as due to eye injuries. Out of this 5,000, nearly 2,500 are indus­trial injuries, the rest may be due to agricultural accidents etc. It is neces­sary for us to find out the reason for such eye injuries in industry and the ways and means to reduce them.

Nature of injuries: The nature of eve injury can be classified in the following way. Flying particle of iron, glass or stone can hit the cornea and get stuck up into the cornea. We get an average of 3 to 4 cases of corneal foreign bodies per day. These particles always leave small scars in the cornea. When the patient gets repeated injuries of this type his vision gets defective. There are some people who will come regularly with particles in the cornea almost every month.

When the particle is big and the velocity is high, it pierces the eye­ball. We get almost one perforating injury case a day, but not all of them are due to industrial injuries. The particle may get lodged inside the eye and it is not easy to remove it. For exact localisation, we have to use modern equipment like Ultra-Sonic vibrations. Ultra-Sonic vibra­tions are used for detecting flaws in steel castings commonly.

Blunt injuries by big objects are also common. In constructional works. Falling down from scaffold­ings, etc., can cause severe injuries. Injuries due to bright light, like arc lamp, are also common. People come to us with intense pain and redness clue to exposure to arc welding. In­jury with caustics like ammonia will also cause severe damage to the eyes.

Certain industries which look harmless like the salt-pans in Tuti­corin and in other areas, but they also have their hazards. Three years back, we did a survey of salt pan workers and screened 500 of them. We found 19 of them having kerati­tis and I was told that quite a num­ber of people left the job because their vision became very defective. In the Centre of the cornea they get big white spots with watering of eyes. Their vision gets affected and they leave the job. We do not know the exact cause for this trouble. There are various types of works in the salt-pans, collection of salt, carrying of salt etc. All of them get involved in this complication and it needs a good scientific research team to find out what exactly is the cause that is responsible for this salt-pan keratitis. The industry has tried some sort of goggles but in view of the heat and sweating it is not possi­ble to wear these goggles. It is one of the complications due to a chemi­cal factor.

Without getting a direct hit in the eye, the vision can be lost. It hap­pens due to injuries of the skull, because the optic nerve gets into the brain, where it can be damaged. An accident happened sometime ago - one person going on a bicycle was hit by a bus. He came walking into the Hospital, but after a few minutes became unconscious and his face got swollen. He had a fracture of the skull. After a few days treatment he became conscious and he com­plained that he could not see with one eve. Fracture of the skull had damaged the optic nerve resulting in total vision loss in one eye. Injuries in automobile accidents are usually multiple and whenever skull injuries occur there is a possibility of damage to vision also.

Cause of injuries: Most of the in­juries can be caused by flying parti­cles. Unless steps are taken to pro­tect the eye with safety glasses, there are no ways of reducing these inju­ries.

The first point to be considered is "ARE THE EYES RIGHT FOR THE JOB". Here there is no legislation for strict Eye Examination before a per­son is employed. Even in cases where eyes have been tested, there is no periodical check-up. We find there are several people employed in industries who have sub-normal vi­sion. Recently we had a case where a textile mill worker was injured in his right eye while working in the factory. He reported to the E.S.I. Medical Officer who referred the patient to us. When we examined him carefully we found that he had no vision in the injured eye even previous to injury. In the other eye he had vision only to count fingers at 4 feet. The injury to the eye was a minor one and we reported back to the E.S.I. Medical Officer that the injury of the eye was due to blind­ness in that eve. But the worker made representations that he became blind in that eye due to the injury and the Trade Union also sent petitions that the man lost vision in that eye due to the injury. Had this man been tested for vision before periodically he would not have been found fit for the job.

Now it is very important in the Transport Industry to have this periodical eye testing to see that their vision is normal. In the Eye Department, we frequently get dri­vers of lorries belonging to Munici­pality and private owners and also some of the private cars whose vision is absolutely poor. The automobile is responsible for the major number of accidents and deaths in U.S.A. Here in India also we get a high in­cidence of traffic accidents and we are likely to have more and more of them unless we have rigorous regu­lations regarding the eye examination of the drivers. The Transport De­partment should have eye specialists to check up all drivers not only for their vision and also for tension and examination of visual fields. Some times people have good distant vision, but they have absolutely very limited tubular fields and they can­not see beyond a small radius of 30 degrees.

Needless damage to the eyes and the economic loss to the industry:

The loss to industry has been cal­culated by various people due to eye injuries. When a person gets injured other people stop their job- and run to give first aid. He is transported to the dispensary or to the Hospital for further treatment. The person may be out of work for sometime or leave the job once and for all. From the humanitarian point of view no body can make good the loss of sight.

  Conclusion Top

The incidence of eye injuries in industries is very high in Madras State - The industrialist, the em­ployee and all those concerned should take active steps to bring down this needless and unnecessary loss.


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