Topical ocular anesthetic abuse among Iranian welders: time for action

Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol. 2013 Oct-Dec;20(4):336-40. doi: 10.4103/0974-9233.120023.


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to estimate the prevalence of topical ocular anesthetic abuse among welders in Iran and suggest public health solutions for this issue.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 390 welders were randomly recruited and queried on the use of anesthetic drops. A questionnaire was administered through structured one-on-one interviews conducted by the first author.

Results: A total of 314 welders (80.5%) declared that they had used topical anesthetics at least once during their working lives. Almost 90% of them stated a preference for self-treatment over seeking help from a physician due to cultural and financial reasons. The most commonly used topical anesthetic was tetracaine. Most of the subjects (97.4%) had obtained the drugs from pharmacies without a prescription.

Conclusions: The prevalence of topical ocular anesthetic abuse among welders in Iran is alarmingly high and may partially be due to cultural issues. Although most physicians are aware that topical anesthetics should only be used as a diagnostic tool, there is a crucial need to re-emphasize the ocular risks associated with chronic use of these medications. Educational programs for both physicians and the public are necessary to address the problem.

Keywords: Iran; Topical Ocular Anesthetics; Welder.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anesthesia, Local / statistics & numerical data*
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage
  • Anesthetics, Local / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Iran / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Medication / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tetracaine / administration & dosage
  • Welding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Tetracaine