Assessing dairy employees’ health status in South Dakota: Vision care

Document Type


Publication Date



2019 American Dairy Science Association Annual Meeting: Cincinnati, Ohio


American Dairy Science Association


Journal of Dairy Science










dairy farm, milker, vision problems


A dairy farm typically involves many day-to-day activities, use of machinery and equipment, and most importantly milking. Mastitis, a common disease in dairy cows, ultimately affects profitability of the dairy. Mastitis care includes following written protocols, signs detection, and safe medication practices that requires the farmworker to have optimal vision. We are observing elevated rates of vision impairment while providing milking school farm trainings. If not corrected, the vision impairment may interfere with the milking procedures and/or driving machinery. The aim of this study was to detect possible impaired vision issues within dairy farm employees and raise eye health awareness. Dairy farm employees (n = 88 on 4 farms) were tested with the Spot Vision Screener (Welch Allyn Inc., Skaneateles Falls, NY). The screener is a handheld non-invasive device that quickly and easily detects vision issues on people of all ages. The device instantly displays a full detailed report of pupillary diameter, ocular alignment, binocular refraction, and referral recommendation. The referral recommendation is 1) “All measurements in range” or 2) “Complete eye exam recommended.” Participants using eyeglasses or contact lenses were included to ensure their prescriptions were within normal range. Descriptive statistics were calculated using SAS 9.4 by PROC FREQ and MEANS. The average age of those enrolled was 28 ± 1.6 and 34 ± 1.4 years old for female and male, respectively. Eighty percent were male, and 93% were Hispanic. One-fourth needed further eye examination and 40% (n = 35) had never visited an eye care professional either due to cost or language barriers. From the participants that needed an eye exam, 60% were milkers. If vision is impaired, the cow’s wellbeing and quality of milk might be at risk due to the milker’s vision challenges. Preliminary evidence using the screener suggests that future vision care programs should be developed 201J. Dairy Sci. Vol. 102, Suppl. 1 for farm workers, particularly for the milker subgroup. Study supported by HICAHS (Colorado State University).