Tear secretion dysfunction among women workers engaged in light-on tests in the TFT-LCD industry
1 Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Medical College, National Cheng Kung University, 138 Sheng-Li Road, Tainan, Taiwan
2 Tainan Science Industrial Park Clinic, Chi-Mei Medical Center, Tainan, Taiwan
3 Graduate Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
4 Department of Ophthalmology, Chi-Mei Medical Center, Tainan, Taiwan
BMC Public Health 2006, 6:303 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-303Published: 16 December 2006
The TFT-LCD (thin film transistor liquid crystal display) industry is rapidly growing in Taiwan and many other countries. A large number of workers, mainly women, are employed in the light-on test process to detect the defects of products. At the light-on test workstation, the operator is generally exposed to low humidity (in the clean room environment), flashing light, and low ambient illumination for long working hours. Many workers complained about eye discomfort, and therefore we conducted a study to evaluate the tear secretion function of light-on test workers of a TFT-LCD company.
We recruited workers engaged in light-on tests in the company during their periodical health examination. In addition to a questionnaire survey of demographic characteristics and ophthalmic symptoms, we evaluated the tear secretion function of both eyes of each participant using the Schirmer's lacrimal basal secretion test with anaesthesia. A participant with one or both eyes yielding abnormal test results was defined as a case of tear secretion dysfunction.
During the study period, a total of 371 light-on test workers received the health examination at the clinic of the park, and 52 of them were excluded due to having ophthalmic diseases and other systemic diseases that may affect ophthalmic function. All the remaining 319 qualified workers agreed to participate in this study, and they were all females working by 4-shift rotations. The average age was 24.2 years old (standard deviation [SD] = 3.8), and the average employment duration was 13.6 months (SD = 5.7). Among the 11 ophthalmic symptoms evaluated, eye dryness was the most prevalent (prevalence = 43.3%). In addition, the prevalence of tear secretion dysfunction in at least one eye was 40.1% (128 cases), and contact lens users had an odds ratio of 1.73 (95% confidence interval = 1.02–2.94) in comparison with non-contact lens users. Comparing the Schirmer's test results of those who also participated in the screening in the previous year, we found 40 of the 156 participants (17.2%) with normal test results in the previous year turned abnormal in 2001. In contrast, only 21 of the 76 participants (9.1%) with abnormal test results in the previous year turned normal, and the difference was statistically significant (p = 0.02 for McNemar's test).
The prevalence of tear secretion dysfunction in woman workers engaged in light-on tests is high and increases with a one-year duration of employment. The use of contact lens may further increase the risk.