Can I collect workers’ comp benefits if my work-related vision loss is correctable?

A traumatic workplace accident, chemical exposure, or eye strain could lead to permanently losing vision that limits your ability to continue working.

man_with_glassesIn certain industries, these injuries happen regularly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over 700,000 eye injuries requiring medical treatment occur in workplaces each year across the country.

Vision loss, even loss caused by a traumatic accident, is often treatable with surgery or corrective lenses. But a workers’ comp loss of vision award is based on your condition before you receive any treatment.

Qualifying for Vision Loss Benefits

To qualify for an Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation loss of vision award, you must have lost at least 25 percent of sight in one eye due to a workplace accident or exposure.

The percentage of loss is based on your vision after the injury but before receiving treatment or corrective lenses. This assessment is compared to your sight ability before the accident to confirm the vision loss was caused by the accident or other workplace conditions.

If your vision is expected to improve without medical intervention, your scheduled loss award won't be determined until the healing process is complete. Even if your vision is 100 percent correctable with surgery, glasses, or contact lenses, you'll still qualify for benefits based on your pre-treatment vision. If a workplace injury results in a removal of the eye or a traumatic cataract, you may also qualify for a facial disfigurement award.

Causes of Workplace Vision Loss

The most common cause of traumatic vision loss is a workplace injury caused by debris in the eye. Flying metal shards, broken glass, dirt, dust, sand, and other particulates lodge in the cornea, causing permanent damage. Other causes of on-the-job vision loss include:

  • Tools. Nail guns, staplers, saws, wire cutters, and other tools send dangerous projectiles into the eyes of the user or bystanders. Line workers at Honda, Whirlpool, and Worthington Industries are at high risk.
  • Chemicals. Splashes from industrial chemicals and cleaning products cause burns that damage the eyes. Workers at local companies such as GFS Chemical, Hexion, and Capital Resin handle chemicals daily that pose risks of permanent vision damage.
  • Thermal burns. Welders at companies like Honda, Cardington Yutaka Technologies, and Battelle may experience thermal burns to the retina, causing significant loss of vision.

Most injuries can be prevented by using protective eyewear, but because workers’ comp is a no-fault insurance, it shouldn't matter whether your eye injury was preventable. If your vision is damaged while performing a task related to employment, you're entitled to workers’ comp benefits. The amount of your award depends on the percentage of impairment and increases if vision loss is complete and permanent in one or both eyes.

Contact Me If You Have Been Denied

If you suffered vision loss due to a workplace injury and your benefits were denied, or you're unhappy with the way your claim is being handled, contact me for a personalized assessment of your claim. I also encourage you to request a free copy of my book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio.

 

James Monast
Fighting for Ohio’s Injured Workers and their Families