Objective: Eye injury in the workplace is common worldwide. This study proposed to explore both risk and preventive factors re eye injuries in Hong Kong.
Design: Case-control study.
Participants: A total of 239 work-related eye injury patients, and 253 subjects without a history of any eye injury as controls.
Methods: Patients with all incident cases of work-related eye injuries attending the ophthalmology clinics of 3 major public hospitals in Hong Kong during the first 3 months of 2000 were invited to participate. Controls were selected from the general population and were frequency matched to patients based on gender. Patients were interviewed face-to-face by trained interviewers in the ophthalmology clinics, using a structured questionnaire. Telephone interviews were used for controls.
Main outcome measures: Risk and protective factors associated with eye injuries.
Results: Among eye injury cases, 158 patients (66.1%) reported having incurred 1 episode of eye injury during employment, 49 (20.5%) having suffered 2 episodes, and 32 (13.4%) having experienced >/==" BORDER="0">3 eye injuries at work. Most of the patients (85.4%) did not wear any protective devices at the time of injury. Subjects who wore safety glasses regularly were less likely to have eye injuries (odds ratio [OR] = 0.29, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.14-0.62). Having a safety requirement for wearing safety glasses was negatively associated with eye injuries (OR = 0.31, 95% CI = 0.15-0.62). Multivariate analysis indicated that exposures to certain work hazards and working in the construction industry were positively associated with eye injuries. Subjects who worked longer in their current job, who reported having received job safety training before employment, or whose machines or equipment were maintained or repaired regularly by employers were at lower risk of experiencing eye injuries.
Conclusions: Construction workers and those exposed to multiple hazards may get eye injuries at work. They should be provided with protective devices that are effective in preventing such exposures. Health education and safety training are important in preventing eye injuries. Maintenance and repair of machines and equipment may effectively reduce or eliminate the sources of exposures.