Document Detail

Olive-harvesting eye injuries.
Jump to Full Text
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22837627     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
PURPOSE: To document the types of ocular trauma that occurs during the olive-harvesting season in a region of the Middle East.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Ophthalmic assessments of all patients were performed by one ophthalmologist. Examinations included visual acuity, slit-lamp evaluation of the anterior segment, intraocular pressure measurement and posterior segment assessment after pupil dilatation.
RESULTS: The study cohort comprised 119 patients who presented for ocular injury due to olive harvesting. Seven patients (5.9%) had severe ocular trauma. Two of these patients presented with corneal perforation, and five with retinal edema. Six patients with severe ocular injury were male.
CONCLUSIONS: Ocular injuries are common when olives were harvested manually or with sticks. A preventive program to reduce injury should consider environmental and cultural factors.
Michael Yulish; Joseph Pikkel
Related Documents :
1275137 - The urgency of diagnosis and surgical treatment of acute suppurative cholangitis.
9098217 - Morphine augmentation increases gallbladder visualization in patients pretreated with c...
5083887 - Intermittent secretion of abnormal bile in patients with cholesterol gall stones.
22837627 - Olive-harvesting eye injuries.
9069137 - Laparoscopic splenectomy. the emerging standard.
11950117 - Clinical manifestations of strongyloidiasis in southern taiwan.
Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article; Multicenter Study    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Middle East African journal of ophthalmology     Volume:  19     ISSN:  0975-1599     ISO Abbreviation:  Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol     Publication Date:    2012 Jul-Sep
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-07-27     Completed Date:  2013-02-12     Revised Date:  2013-07-12    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101521797     Medline TA:  Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol     Country:  India    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  320-2     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Ophthalmology, Medical Center, Ziv, Zefad, Israel.
Export Citation:
APA/MLA Format     Download EndNote     Download BibTex
MeSH Terms
Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological*
Eye Injuries / diagnosis,  epidemiology,  etiology*
Follow-Up Studies
Middle East / epidemiology
Prospective Studies
Trauma Severity Indices
Visual Acuity

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Full Text
Journal Information
Journal ID (nlm-ta): Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol
Journal ID (iso-abbrev): Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol
Journal ID (publisher-id): MEAJO
ISSN: 0974-9233
ISSN: 0975-1599
Publisher: Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, India
Article Information
Copyright: © Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology
Print publication date: Season: Jul-Sep Year: 2012
Volume: 19 Issue: 3
First Page: 320 Last Page: 322
ID: 3401803
PubMed Id: 22837627
Publisher Id: MEAJO-19-320
DOI: 10.4103/0974-9233.97939

Olive-Harvesting Eye Injuries
Michael Yulishaff1
Joseph Pikkelaff1
Department of Ophthalmology, Medical Center, “Ziv”, Zefad, Faculty of Medicine, Bar Ilan University, Israel
Correspondence: Corresponding Author: Dr. Michael Yulish, Department of Ophthalmology, Medical Center “Ziv”, Zefad, Israel. E-mail:


More than 65,000 work-related eye injuries and illnesses are reported in the United States annually.1 Ocular injuries can cause severe complications and disabilities that can be partial or permanent. In agricultural operations, trauma to the eyes is commmon.2, 3

Olea europaea, the European olive is a fruit tree that has was first cultivated prior to the Bronze Age. The Bible describes the olive as one of the seven species that bless the Holy Land. It is believed that the variety was initially introduced to northern Africa and Greece by the Semitic inhabitants of the Middle East and Syria. From there it spread to southern Europe and to other geographical areas (America, Australia, South Africa). Olive oil and olives are used for cosmetics, food, ancient and modern customs and ceremonies. Olive trees reach a height of 3-7 meters. Adjacent to the trunk, they develop many stems that serve as seedlings. Olives are harvested by hand, with the aid of sticks and also by more modern equipment. Harvesting by primitive methods such as hand picking or with sticks can result in injury to farmers. We report the incidence of ocular trauma during the olive-harvesting season in the Tira-Taibe-Kalansua Triangle. In this region of Israel, populated by Arabs, there is a long tradition of olive growing and olive oil production.


In this prospective case series, data were collected from all patients presenting with ocular trauma due to olive harvesting between October 2009 and December 2009 at the primary community eye clinics. Patient interviews and eye examinations were conducted by a single senior ophthalmologist.

The eye examination consisted of visual acuity measurement, slit-lamp examination of the anterior segment, applanation tonometery and dilated posterior segment examination.

Clinical features of the injury were recorded and classified as “severe” or “mild.” Severe injuries were penetrating eye injuries, intraocular foreign body, corneal perforation, iridodialysis, iris prolapse, dislocated lens, choroidal rupture and macular/retinal damage. Mild injuries consisted of lid laceration, corneal erosion, corneal and fornix foreign body, conjunctival tear, subconjunctival hemorrhage and hyphema.


Between October 2009 and December 2009, 1,956 patients visited the community primary eye clinics in the Tira-Taibe-Kalansua Triangle region. One hundred and nineteen patients (6.08%), one hundred and twenty-four eyes, presented with ocular trauma due to olive harvesting. Five of patients presented with bilateral eyelid lacerations. Of the patients presenting with olive-harvesting-related trauma, most had mild ocular trauma. Seven patients (5.9%) presented with severe ocular trauma. The common cause of ocular trauma was injury due to sharp or blunt olive tree branches. In three cases, the ocular injury was the part of complex trauma due to a fall from the tree. Severe ocular trauma included two cases of corneal perforation, one with lens dislocation, iridodialysis and retinal edema; and another five patients with retinal edema [Table 1]. Mild ocular trauma included corneal erosions, corneal and fornix foreign bodies, eyelid lacerations, hyphema and conjunctival lacerations [Table 1]. More than two-thirds (83/119) of the patients were men. Six of the seven (86%) cases of severe ocular injury occurred in males. Both cases of corneal perforation were referred to the tertiary medical center, sutured and treated by local and systemic intravenous antibiotics. No cases of endophthalmitis occurred during the course of this study.

Final visual acuities in patients with mild ocular trauma ranged from 20/40 to 20/20 in the injured eye [Table 2]. Final visual acuity, of a patient with paracentral corneal perforation and peripheral retinal edema was 20/40 due to a corneal scar 1 year after trauma. The outcome of the patient with paracentral corneal perforation, lens dislocation, Iridodialysis and peripheral retinal edema was 20/70 16 months after trauma. This patient underwent successful primary corneal wound suturing and, 4 months later, cataract extraction with anterior chamber intraocular lens implantation [Table 2].


This study documents the different types of ocular injuries resulting from olive harvesting by with hands and sticks. Among Arab communities in the Middle East, olive harvesting is a family business. Usually, men climb the olive trees and shake the branches and women gather olives near the trunk of the tree. This division of labor explains the greater number of men reporting ocular injuries, particularly severe injuries.

A common mode of ocular trauma was injury by sharp or blunt olive tree branches. Two corneal perforation cases were caused due to injury by sharp branches. Injury due to sharp branches was more serious resulting in a less favorable visual outcome.

There is a higher risk of endophthalmitis in ocular injury caused by vegetable matter. The cause of endophthalmitis developing in rural trauma is associated with soil contamination.4, 5 In this study, there were no cases of endophthalmitis cases, likely, due to a small number of corneal perforations (only two cases), prompt hospitalization, suturing, and administration of local and systemic intravenous antibiotics.

A comprehensive literature review and field study of migrant farm workers found vegetation was the most common source of eye injuries. The hazards from pruning and harvesting of orchard crops were similar to those documented in the current study; workers’ eyes were at a constant risk of being poked by a branch or leaf.6

Work-related eye trauma is the major cause of eye injury and most often occurs as a result of the lack of proper eye protection.7, 8 One study estimated that 90% of work-related eye injuries are preventable with adequate eye protection.1 In a study of patients with work-related eye injuries in Hong Kong reported 85.4% reported not wearing protective devices at the time of injury.9

The majority of patients in the current study presented with mild ocular trauma.

Nevertheless, this study highlights the importance of improving conditions and awareness of ocular trauma in the agricultural workplace. We expect that protective glasses would reduce the risk of ocular injury during olive harvesting. Since the olive trees in the Tira-Taibe-Kalansua Triangle region are under family ownership, the owners, who are also the harvesters, need be educated regarding the risks of eye injuries and implementation of preventative safety measures. Specifically, farm workers should be encouraged to wear protective glasses and to be more cautious during the harvesting process. From interviews during examination we learned that more careful pruning may reduce injuries to eyes, and also preserve the trees. However, there is resistance to change due to the desire to save time and the lack of awareness. The role of men in harvesting should receive particular attention. A preventive and educational strategy that considers the work environment, as well as cultural factors and restraints, may reduce the occurrence of ocular trauma during olive-harvesting season.


Source of Support: Nil

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

1. Peate WF. Work-related eye injuries and illnessesAm Fam PhysicianYear: 20077510172217427615
2. Saari KM,Aine E. Eye injuries in agricultureActa Ophthalmol SupplYear: 198416142516328853
3. Valeeva RG. Prevention of injuries of the eye in agricultureVestn OftalmolYear: 19851017153913104
4. Bhagat N,Nagori S,Zarbin M. Post-traumatic Infectious EndophthalmitisSurv OphthalmolYear: 2011562145121397289
5. Boldt HC,Pulido JS,Blodi CF,Folk JC,Weingeist TA. Rural endophthalmitisOphthalmologyYear: 198996172262622617
6. Lacey SE,Forst LS,Petrea RE,Conroy LM. Eye injury in migrant farm workers and suggested hazard controlsJ Agric Saf HealthYear: 2007132597417892069
7. Mansouri MR,Hosseini M,Mohebi M,Alipour F,Mehrdad R. Work-related eye injury: The main cause of ocular trauma in IranEur J OphthalmolYear: 200920770519967674
8. Forrest KY,Cali JM. Epidemiology of lifetime work-related eye injuries in the U.S. population associated with one or more lost days of workOphthalmic EpidemiolYear: 2009161566219437310
9. Yu TS,Liu H,Hui K. A case-control study of eye injuries in the workplace in Hong KongOphthalmologyYear: 200411170414711716

[TableWrap ID: T1] Table 1 

Distribution of patients according to ocular injury during olive harvesting

[TableWrap ID: T2] Table 2 

Final visual acuity based on ocular injury during olive harvesting

Article Categories:
  • Original Article

Keywords: Ocular Trauma, Olive, Olive Harvesting.

Previous Document:  Effects of inhaled fluticasone on intraocular pressure and central corneal thickness in asthmatic ch...
Next Document:  Changing indications and surgical techniques for corneal transplantation between 2004 and 2009 at a ...