- In Kenya, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 750,000 people have severe vision impairment.
- ILO says more needs to be done to protect workers’ eye health as it significantly affects labour markets.
An estimated 13 million people globally are living with occupational related vision impairment, with cases in low-and middle-income countries about four times more than high-income regions.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO’s) Eye Health and the World of Work report, about 3.5 million eye injuries occur in the workplace every year, amounting to one per cent of all non-fatal occupational injuries.
With majority of the low middle-income countries being on track towards economic development through GDP growth, ILO says they are more prone to the problem.
This is because development prospects play a significant role in the prevalence of vision impairment.
According to the agency, more needs to be done to protect workers’ eye health as it significantly affects labour markets.
“Workers with vision impairment are 30 per cent less likely to be employed, compared to those without,” ILO says.
It adds that among the working-age population, the overall relative reduction in employment for those with vision impairment is about 30.2 per cent globally, compared to workers without vision impairment.
“More than 90 per cent of vision impairment cases are either preventable or treatable through existing and highly cost-effective interventions,” the report says in part.
It says there is need for coordinated global, national and workplace initiatives to protect workers’ well being for an effective workforce.
In Kenya, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 750,000 people have severe vision impairment.
It also indicates that about 224,000 Kenyans are living with blindness, out of the 39 million globally.
“About 80 per cent of the blindness is due to causes that can be cured and prevented,” WHO says.
In addition, data collected from Lapaire Group, a parent company of Lapaire Kenya, an eyewear company based in Nairobi, indicates that eye problems detected amongst many people are preventable.
ILO says employers should prioritise their workers’ health and put in place occupational safety and health programmes to protect the vision of workers.
They programmes should 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.
“Workers should be informed of hazards that may affect their eye health. Workers and their representatives should also be consulted about eye health programmes and interventions in workplaces,” says the report.