Incidence rates of work-related compensable ocular injuries/illnesses and associated risk factors were estimated by using a state-managed workers' compensation database. The annual incidence rate was estimated to be 537 per 100,000 employees. The majority of the ocular injuries and illnesses resulted from foreign bodies in the external eye (incidence rate 194 per 100,000 employees). Incidence rates for superficial eye injury, atopic conjunctivitis, burn, keratitis, chronic conjunctivitis, and contusion were 168.3, 30.9, 28.0, 23.4, 17.9, and 15.3 per 100,000 employees, respectively. The highest incidence rate was observed in the agricultural sector, with male employees having higher rates than female employees. Cooks, housekeepers, and food service workers had higher risk of atopic conjunctivitis (relative risk, 3.2 to 7.3) compared with other workers. The majority of the atopic conjunctivitis illnesses and burn injuries were associated with chemical exposures. Reduction of exposures and targeted intervention among high-risk workers should reduce the incidence of work-related ocular injuries and illnesses.
West Virginia University, School of Medicine, Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health, Morgantown, West Virginia