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Musculoskeletal disorders in retinal specialists: UK national study

Session Details

Session Title: Quick Fire Free Paper Session 03

Session Date/Time: Sunday 29/09/2013 | 08:30-09:30

Paper Time: 08:10

Venue: Hall C (Level 1)

First Author: P.Alexander UK

Co Author(s):    D. Matheson   J. Baxter   N. Tint        

Abstract Details


Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are common, accounting for almost half of all work related illnesses in the UK. A number of studies have confirmed the high prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in eye care professionals, compared to family physicians. This study aimed to provide a comprehensive and up to date evaluation of the prevalence and severity of back, neck and shoulder pain in UK ophthalmologists, and to identify work related factors that may precipitate or aggravate such disorders.


University of Nottingham, UK


A postal survey of all consultant ophthalmologists in the UK was conducted. This study was reviewed and approved by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.


A response rate of 44% (419/950) was achieved. Overall, 59% of respondents had experienced back, neck or shoulder pain in the preceding 12 months that was severe enough to interfere with routine clinical work. Slit lamp use was identified as a significant risk factor for back, neck and shoulder pain (p=0.001). Number of operating sessions per week was associated with back pain (p=0.03) and shoulder pain (p=0.03) but not neck pain. The number of intravitreal injections administered each week was associated with back pain (p=0.04). Vitreoretinal surgeons were more frequently affected by back, neck and shoulder pain than other ophthalmic subspecialties (60% vs 35%, p=0.0003). Vitreoretinal surgeons were also more likely to take time off work due to musculoskeletal pain (10% vs 5% p=0.15). Six respondents required surgery.


The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in ophthalmologists is high. Retinal specialists seem to be particularly at risk. Awareness of these hazards may persuade ophthalmologists to review their working patterns to ensure that their health is protected from potential occupational disorders.

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