The human eye can be described as the “window to the world”. It helps humans to see objects in the physical world and capture the beauty of nature. The eye performs the sole task of capturing light from objects, which are then transmitted through neurons to the brain to be translated as visual images. It is very important to maintain a good ocular or eye health. Eye injuries account for a substantial proportion of all work related injuries among carpenters, construction workers, laboratory workers, farmers, mechanics (auto welders, auto mechanics, air conditioning repairers, battery system operators, etc) and many more. It is reported that repeated exposure of the eyes to UV radiations, dust and chemicals cause short term eye complaints and may result in permanent eye damage.
A recent study of 433 mechanics in the Cape Coast metropolis has revealed that 39.5% of mechanics suffer from eye injuries.
The study, published in the Journal of Ophthalmic and Vision Research, involved determination of visual acuity (VA) using LogMAR chart, external eye examination with a handheld slit lamp biomicroscope, dilated fundus examination, applanation tonometry and refraction. The prevalence of visual impairment among the respondents was 2.1% and the study found that 72.5% of the participants do not use eye protective devices. The study found that “anterior segment ocular disorders were mostly pterygia while posterior segment eye disorders included glaucoma suspects and retinochoroidal lesions,”. The study also found that 89.6% of mechanics had no knowledge about eye health and safety standards.
A healthy workforce is vital for sustainable social and economic development on a global, national and local level. The classic approach of ensuring health and safety in the workplace has depended mainly on the enactments of laws to ensure compliance with health and safety standards. While this approach has been effective in controlling many specific occupational hazards, it has not been very effective in ocular health safety in developing countries such as Ghana. Considering the economic responsibilities of mechanics in Ghana and their contribution to development, eye related injuries among them may be detrimental to the economy. The authors of the study recommended strict compliance on the use of eye safety gadgets and organization of ocular health education programs and periodic examinations for mechanics. Furthermore, they recommended that “eye safety should be made an integral part of the public health agenda in the Cape Coast Metropolis.”
The authors of the study were E.K. Abu, S.B. Boadi-Kusi, P.Q. Opuni, A . Owusu-Ansah and C. Darko-Takyi of the Department of Optometry, School of Physical Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana; and S. Kyei of the Discipline of Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of Kwazulu-natal, Durban, South Africa.
Digital Reporter: John Taylor (BSc Biochemistry student at KNUST)