Eye Health and the World of Work
Eye health is of crucial importance in the workplace. This report emphasizes its impact on labor markets and the need for coordinated global, national, and workplace initiatives. Globally, around 143 million working-age people have moderate to severe vision impairment (VI), and 18 million are blind. 13 million working-age individuals live with VI linked to their occupation, including 3.5 million annual occupational eye injuries. Workers with VI are 30.2% less likely to be employed, resulting in a $411 billion annual global productivity loss. The report urges for comprehensive national occupational safety and health (OSH) systems, encompassing regulatory frameworks, competent authorities, rights and duties of employers and workers, and medical care and compensation. A medical surveillance program is needed to monitor workers' eye health, as well as a paradigm shift towards health promotion campaigns. Multidisciplinary teams should collaborate to provide spectacles and vision screenings, which can increase household income and reduce gender inequality. Overall, this report highlights the urgency of addressing eye health in the workplace, and pushes for a global OSH program to prevent exposure to hazards, provide a system to include naturally occurring sight loss in assessment, and protect existing worker eye health.