Objective: The aim of this study was to verify or to disprove whether the term ‘Welder’s maculopathy’ or ‘Welding arc maculopathy’ has to be considered being a justifiable occupational hazard and is to be annexed to the list of occupational diseases. Methods: Multifocal electroretinography (MERG) and thorough ophthalmologic examinations were performed in a group of 89 welders. The matched control group comprised 81 subjects who had never been exposed to welding. All participants of this study were examined by a specialist of occupational medicine prior to the MERG. Results: Multifocal electroretinography as well as ophthalmological tests did not reveal a significant morphological or functional differences between the welders and the control group. On an average, the welders’ visual acuity appeared to be better than that of the control group. This phenomenon could be attributed to the so-called healthy worker effect. Conclusion: Welding arc maculopathy seems to be rather a sequel of occupational accidents and negligence of safety regulations. The results of this study indicate that the usual protective measures in professional welding appears to be sufficient in order to prevent an occupational risk of welding arc maculopathy.
KeywordsWelding arc maculopathy Multifocal electroretinogram Retina Welding
The study was supported by the Allgemeinen Unfallversicherungsanstalt (General Accident Insurance), Vienna, Austria.
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