Onion farmers suffer eyes problems caused by poor hygiene
  • |, Laodong | October 22, 2015 02:16 PM

Poor workplace hygiene and improper treatment are the leading to blindness and cornea inflammation among onion farmers in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang, according to the Health Ministry.

The results were released by deputy health minister, Dr. Nguyen Thanh Long, after an inspection in Vinh Chau Town on October 21.

Long confirmed that there was no evidence to back rumours that chemicals used in preserving onions caused eye problems among local farmers.

Deputy health minister, Dr. Nguyen Thanh Long, checked eyes for a woman in Vinh Chau Town.

Vinh Chau Town grows the largest numbers of purple onions in the country. The town has 6,200 hectares of land dedicated to growing onions, producing up to 100,000 metric tonnes per year. However, the area is also reporting a higher rate of blindness among local farmers. The local authorities recently asked the Ministry of Health to investigate the problem.


Farmers in Vinh Chau Town are preparing onions for sales

Research by the ministry and health officials from Ho Chi Minh City showed that the rate of cornea inflammation among farmers in Vinh Chau was 12 times more than in developed nations.

Vinh Chau now has 1,248 blind people, with 23 percent of them sightless in both eyes and 77 percent blind in one eye, the research said.

This means that the town has 6 blind people per every 1,000 while the average rate throughout Vietnam is 5 in 1,000.

Many farmers have reported that their eyes have been irritated by the onions when cut. Farmers have also suffered the symptoms while collecting purple onions.

Doctor Vu Tuan Anh from the Central Eye Hospital said that the eye problems were mainly caused by sub-standard hygiene during their work. “Many farmers use dirty hands to wipe their eyes and that has transferred the onion juice, Anh explained, "They then use eye drops containing corticoid, which inflames the cornea”.

"Rubbing eyes for a long time causes damage to the cornea and can ultimately lead to blindness, Dr. Long said.

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