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A Case-Crossover Study of Risk Factors for Occupational Eye Injuries

Blackburn, Justin PhD; Levitan, Emily B. ScD; MacLennan, Paul A. PhD; Owsley, Cynthia PhD, MSPH; McGwin, Gerald Jr MS, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 1 - p 42–47
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182398e1a
Original Articles

Objective: To study transient risk factors for occupational eye injuries.

Methods: A case-crossover study was conducted among patients treated for occupational eye injuries in the emergency department at an eye hospital in Alabama. A questionnaire was administered to collect information regarding risk factors at the time of and prior to eye treatment. Incidence rate ratios were used to measure the relationship between each risk factor and injury occurrence.

Results: Protective eyewear reduced the risk of occupational eye injury, while increased risk was observed for the following: being distracted, use of tools, tool malfunction, performing an unfamiliar task, being rushed, working overtime, and feeling fatigued.

Conclusions: Although use of protective eyewear can significantly reduce the risk of an eye injury, other factors are important contributors. Identification of potentially modifiable transient risk factors can be used to prevent occupational eye injuries.

From the Department of Epidemiology (Drs Blackburn, Levitan, and McGwin), Department of Ophthalmology (Drs Owsley and McGwin), and Department of Surgery (Dr MacLennan), University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL.

Address correspondence to: Justin Blackburn, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1665 University Blvd, Rm 427, Birmingham, AL 35294 (

This work was supported by the EyeSight Foundation of Alabama and Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc. The sponsor or funding organization had no role in the design or conduct of this research.

None of the authors have any proprietary interests or conflicts of interest related to this submission.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine