Ocular effects of chronic exposure to welding light on calabar welders

  • K.G Davies
  • U Asana
  • C.O Nku
  • E.E Osim
Keywords: Keratoconjunctivitis, incidence, cataract, pterygium.

Abstract

It was generally observed that welders in Calabar, Nigeria did not always wear their protective goggles during welding. Since chronic exposure to welding light can impair vision this study was done to assess the effect of exposure to welding light on ocular function of welders in Calabar, Nigeria. There were 195 subjects comprising 110
welders (test) and 85 control subjects. Both groups were all male and had similar age range. The tests employed were clinical examination for ocular disorders, assessment of visual acuity, and opthalmoscopy. Test questionnaire was also used to record information on length of service, precautionary measures at work place, age and past ocular illnesses.
The study also compared incidence of ocular disorders between the two groups of welders (arc and carbide welders). The mean ages of the welders and their control were not significantly different (27.53  10.0 vs 27.78  8.5 yrs respectively). There was a significantly (P<0.01) higher incidence of pingueculum, cataract, allergic conjunctivitis,
corneal opacity, and keratoconjunctivitis (arc eye) in welders than in their control subjects. However, visual acuity, incidence of pterygium and glaucoma were similar. Between the two groups of welders, the incidence of pterygium, corneal opacity and keratoconjunctivitis was significantly (P< 0.01) higher in arc welders than carbide welders. The
incidence of pingueculum and glaucoma were however, similar. In conclusion, chronic exposure to welding light without adequate precaution may cause ocular disorders. Arc welding is more dangerous to ocular function than carbide welding. Length of service and age are predisposing factors to ocular disorders in the welding business.
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