Introduction It is known that the shipbuilding industry relies heavily on welding. While welding has conventionally been known to predispose welders to ocular morbidity (OM), organised sector requires implementation of stringent workplace safety rules. Are welders still predisposed to OM by virtue of their occupation?
Methods This cross-sectional study involved 552 workers; 276 welders and 276 nonwelders. An interviewer-administered questionnaire was followed by ocular examination and testing by means of a Titmus Vision Tester.
Result The prevalence of OM among the two study groups comparable in age and duration of employment (DOE), was found to be significantly higher among welders with odds ratio (OR) of 1.75 (95% confidence interval CI: 1.45 to 2.11)) despite regular PPE (personal protective equipment) use. Arc eye was limited to welders. Prevalence of cataract was greater in welders (OR=3.60, 95% CI: 2.27 to 5.70) and was associated with a younger age and a shorter DOE compared to nonwelders. There were more cases of diminished colour vision among the welders (OR=4.09, 95% CI: 1.63 to 10.28) and they did not differ significantly from the nonwelders with the same ocular morbidity in terms of mean age and DOE. Visual field defects, pterygium and myopia were more prevalent among welders; however statistical significance was weak
Discussion Welders have a greater burden of ocular morbidity compared to nonwelders despite regular PPE use. Further investigation to identify underline issues to enable amendment of workplace regulation, screening criteria and worker education material and propose access to evidence based recommendation tailor-made to the actual workplace situation.
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