GENEVA—An estimated 13 million people live with vision impairment linked to their occupations, with an estimated 3.5 million eye injuries occurring in the workplace every year. This amounts to 1 percent of all non-fatal occupational injuries, stated the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). An exclusive new report titled Eye Health and the World of Work, issued by the two groups yesterday, just about a month ahead of World Sight Day on Oct. 12 this year, stated that more needs to be done to protect workers’ eye health.

Eye health significantly affects labor markets: workers with vision impairment are 30 percent less likely to be employed, compared to those without. Economic development plays a significant role in the prevalence of vision impairment, with low- and middle-income regions experiencing about four times more cases than high-income regions.

Over 90 percent of vision impairment cases are either preventable or treatable through existing, highly cost-effective interventions, emphasizes the study. This underscores the need for coordinated global, national and workplace initiatives to protect workers’ well-being since eye health is an integral part of workers’ health.

Occupational safety and health (OSH) programs to protect and enhance the vision of workers should be designed with three goals in mind, according to the study: prevent exposure to specific hazards in each workplace; protect the existing health of workers’ eyes; and provide a system to include workers’ naturally occurring sight loss in risk assessments, the report stated, noting, that workers should be consulted on eye health programs, as well as the duties, rights and responsibilities of employers, workers and their representatives in preventing poor eye health.

Joaquim Pinto Nunes, ILO chief of Labour Administration, Labour Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health said, “The ILO stresses the importance of protecting workers’ safety and health—including their eyes. By prioritizing eye health awareness and effective implementation, we can make sure workers have access to a safe and healthy environment. This ensures their overall well-being, reduces disparities and leads to heightened productivity.”

“This report demonstrates to everyone the vital importance of looking after our eyes, whilst also giving incredibly useful guidance and recommendations for how to protect and promote eye health within the workplace,” said IAPB president, Caroline Casey.

The full Eye Health and The World of Wealth report is available to download here as are social media platform tiles to download here.

The study comes a month before World Sight Day, which this year focuses on the importance of eye health in the workplace with the theme "Love Your Eyes at Work." The IAPB calls on employers around the world to prioritize the eye health of their staff. The #LoveYourEyesatWork program for 2023 is featured on the IAPB site here along with resource toolkits, ways to participate and messaging for ECPs and companies to use to support this year's World Sight Day theme.

IAPB is the overarching alliance for the global eye health sector, with more than 200 organizations in over 100 countries working together for a world where everyone has universal access to eyecare.