Ocular injuries and eye care seeking patterns following injuries among cocoa farmers in Ghana
Background: The work environment of cocoa farmers exposes them to several ocular hazards that predispose them to eye diseases and injuries. However, the extent of ocular injuries and health seeking patterns following these injuries are unknown among cocoa farmers in Ghana.
Objectives: To determine the prevalence of ocular injuries and health seeking behaviour following injury among cocoa farmers in Ghana.
Methods: Five hundred and fifty six participants were recruited through simple random sampling using a multistage approach from four cocoa growing districts in Ghana. A structured questionnaire was used to collect relevant information such as demography, ocular hazards and injuries experienced. An ocular examination was also conducted to assess the eye health of the participants. Descriptive and regression statistics were used to analyze the data. The rate of ocular injuries was calculated by using the number of injuries reported that resulted in lost work time/days divided by the number of worker years at risk of injury (sum of years worked in cocoa farms for all the participants).
Results: The rate of ocular injuries was 11.3/1000 worker years (95% CI: 9.4 - 31) which led to lost work time of 37.3/1000 worker years (95% CI: 34.1 - 40.8). The major causes of ocular injury were plants/branches (n=73, 51.1%), chemicals (n=27, 18.9%), cocoa pod/husk (n=14, 9.8%) and occurred mostly during weeding, harvesting and chemical spraying. Few (n=34, 6.1%) participants reported the use of ocular protection. Fifty-five (38.5%) participants visited the local chemical shops, while 37 (25.9%) visited hospitals/clinics for ocular treatment of their injuries.
Conclusion: There is a high rate of ocular injuries among cocoa farmers who make insufficient use of appropriate eye care services. There is the need for eye health education among cocoa farmers in Ghana.
Keywords: Ocular injuries, cocoa farmers, ocular protective device, eye care services