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Optometrists and Occupational Health

R. Hema, Dr. P P Santanam

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Step 1: The Plant Environemtnal Survey: The optometrists determine:

  • likelihood of injury and potential severity of injury from job operation.
  • Optimum visual requirements for fast, safe and efficient operation of the machine.

Step II: Vision Screening Programme: Each worker is screened for visual acuity and binocular co-ordination besides stereopsis, colour vision, field of vision, etc. on job basis.

Step III: Remedial Programme: It makes the employee more productive by providing specialized job fitted pair of safety glasses.

Step IV: Fitting and Follow-up procedures: The protective cum corrective eye wear of an employee should be at least nearly in accordance with the frame and facial measurements of the wearer for comfort.

Vision care of industrial workers needs team work of occupational health specialists, industrial safety engineers, ophthalmologists and optometrists for successful implemenation of the programme.

The role of optometrists in occupational health can be illustrated with a few examples:

Transport Drivers: Driving both rail and road and pilots are the only occupation for which visual standards have been set by our government. The standards for road transport drivers are:

  • Visual acuity – 20/20 in either or both eyes.
  • unaided acuity of both eye should not be poorer than 20/70.
  • Ability to maintain simultaneous binocular vision
  • Have pupillary reflexes within normal limits
  • Have a mass field of 1600 in horizontal meridian.
  • Be able to distinguish true traffic light colours.

Prescription of occupational needs: The height of the vehicle above the ground level must be considered while determining the height of the bifocal segment.

Lathe Operator

Description of Occupation: The main work involves studying blue prints, adjusting the machine, setting control dials and during production the piece has to be checked with various gauges, etc.

Analysis of visual task: The work area is generally below the eye level.Common working distance to operate the machine is 18 to 20 inches, blue prints are held at an arms length and inspection of the piece is done at 12 to 14 inches.


  • Visual acuity : Near vision is required for machine work,etc.
  • Ocular motility : Free and easy fixational movements are important.
  • Depth Perception: Important while inspecting the machined piece.
  • Peripheral vision :valuable for safe operation
  • colour vision: No speical requirement.
  • Other factors: Illumination should be proper.

Prescription of Occupational needs:

  • Bifocals
  • Trifocals
  • Double segment bifocals
  • Safety frames

Since we do not have standards for all jobs except the few mentioned earlier, Optometrists can help the industry to set standards of vision for various job. The qualifying visual factors i.e criteria fixation of standard are applied together with the characteristics of the particular working population, factors affecting visibility mainly the level of illuminance required for the job.

The optometric services are required in all occupations including aviation and sports. The optometrists make reasonably accurate assessment of the visual requirements of the job and the ability of the patient to carry out his work efficiently with comfort. In fulfilling, the patients overall visual needs the optometrists should be in a better position to give advice and to prescribe most effectively for the work situation.


  1. Guide to occupational and other visual needs – Clark Homes
  2. Eye and industry – Hedwig.S.Kuhn
  3. Fine arts of prescribing glasses – Benjemin Midler,Melvin.L.Rubin
  4. Ophthalmic optics – Sheady
  5. Visual optics and refraction – Micheals .D.B
  6. Directory and information on optometry – Optometric association of India
  7. Industrial optometry – Dr. E. Vaithilingam

R. Hema & Dr. P P Santanam
IV year Student, Elite School of Optometry
Faculty, Elite School of Optometry

IV year Student, Elite School of Optometry
Faculty, Elite School of Optometry

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