Visual impairment and eye health and safety among Latino farmworkers

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Amit Verma, Doctoral Student (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Mark Schulz

Abstract: Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. Everyone who works in agriculture is exposed to environmental risk factors that can result in occupational eye injury and illness. These risks are particularly high for migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Vision problems increase the risk of occupational injuries in farmworkers. Workers rely on distance vision when driving cars, vans, and farm equipment. They rely on close vision to read pesticide labels and avoid branches and other hazards when picking orchard crops. Few farmworkers utilize healthcare in the US due to their immigration status, low income, lack of health insurance, and the limited number of migrant facilities. The overall goals of this project are to: (1) assess the prevalence of visual impairment in Latino farmworkers in North Carolina and (2) assess the use of ocular protection and examine farmworker knowledge, perceptions, and risk beliefs about eye health and safety. Interviews and standardized vision examinations were conducted with 300 Latino farmworkers. About 75% of farmworkers reported never having had their eyes checked. For distance vision, 3.4% had vision problems in the right eye, 3.1% in the left eye, and 1.3% with both eyes. For near vision, 10% had vision problems in the right eye, 10.3% in the left eye, and 6.9% in both eyes. Visual impairment was most common among farmworkers aged 40 years and older. Farmworkers reported difficulty watching TV (19.7%) and doing work requiring near vision (25%). Responses to vision tasks did not accurately predict vision problems identified by examinations; sensitivities for each question were 60% or less. Farmworkers need routine vision exams to identify problems and reduce the risk of occupational injury. Farmworkers reported low rates of eye protection use (8.3%) in this study. Majority (92.3%) of farmworkers in our study report that growers or contractors they work for do not provide eye protection despite the Occupational Safety and Health Standards. Approximately 70% of the farmworkers in this study reported that they are not well trained in preventing eye injuries and 81% of the workers believe that their chances of getting an eye injury at work on any given day are extremely low. Self-efficacy was apparent in issues related to risky behavior. While farmworkers indicated that they could recognize when their co-workers took risks, many farmworkers themselves chose to take risks to the eyes in order to save time or get more work done. Understanding farmworker knowledge, perceptions, and risk beliefs about eye health and safety are important when designing interventions and promoting the use of eye protection. The results of this research are built upon previous studies focused on eye health and provide vital information for defining the need for screening, designing interventions, and implementing programs that are targeted to reduce eye conditions in such a vulnerable, medically underserved population.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Agriculture, Eye protection, Latino, Migrant farmworkers, Occupational health, Visual impairment
Migrant agricultural laborers $x Health and hygiene $z United States.
Eye $x Diseases $z United States.
Eye $x Health and hygiene.
Eye $x Protection.

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