Keeping an Eye on the New Eye Disorder Medical Treatment Guidelines from the NY Workers’ Compensation Board
The NY Workers’ Compensation Board has announced that new Medical Treatment Guidelines—including new Guidelines covering Eye Disorders—become effective on May 2, 2022.
The extensive Eye Disorder Guidelines are meant for work-related eye injuries and disorders, whether acute, subacute, chronic, or post-operative. There is a very short period of disability and treatment suggestions for these types of injuries.
Insurers are recommended to ensure that all employees wear protective eyewear, when applicable, to avoid eye injuries and trauma. These Guidelines will be particularly helpful to insurers in the manufacturing, construction, and welding industries, and where workers are subject to potential eye trauma.
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board has announced new Medical Treatment Guidelines that become effective May 2, 2022. This alert includes a breakdown of the section for Eye Disorders.
The Board has collaborated with physicians to produce a series of Guidelines that define the medical standard of care for certain published conditions, and allow for certain treatment to be covered without necessitating approval if defined within those Guidelines, leading to prompt treatment and a better defined liability for the carrier.
The Eye Disorders Medical Treatment Guidelines encompass a total of 613 pages of instructions with the first 72 pages outlining the specific treatments for occupational-related eye disorders, and the remaining 541 pages outlining the evidence tables to properly assess and treat patients.
The Eye Disorder Medical Treatment Guidelines are meant for work-related eye injuries and disorders, whether acute, subacute, chronic, or postoperative.
About the New Guidelines
Due to the nature of the complexity of the eye and eye disorders, each specific injury requires a different treatment plan.
Eye disorders are mostly acute disorders or injuries with the necessity of treatment completed within the first 5 days and generally involve care from a primary care physician or primary ophthalmologist as opposed to specialist care. They apply to a very small population of the work environment.
- The eye diagnosis can range from simple viral conjunctivitis that requires no treatment to chemical burns that could encompass corneal transplantation. There are multiple red flags identified to ensure prompt and appropriate treatment. Surgery is a rarity with very specific conditions identified.
- Occupational Note: Welders are at a higher risk for thermal burns, however, they commonly present approximately 24 hours after exposure, and therefore individuals could report injury the following workday. Welders and anyone in the vicinity while welding is occurring should at all times wear protective eyewear.
Special studies, as described by the Guidelines, are generally indicated within the first 2-3 days of treatment. Table 5 of the Medical Treatment Guidelines outlines the specific recommended studies based on diagnosis for successful treatment of eye disorders.
Most patients should show objective improvement in 48-72 hours after an eye injury, and anything beyond that timeline should have other identifiable factors in line with these guidelines.
Most patients can work in some capacity while undergoing treatment for most eye disorders.
Recommendations for Insurers
Insurers are recommended to ensure that all employees potentially vulnerable to the rare situations of eye trauma wear protective eyewear, when applicable, to avoid eye injuries. When an eye injury does occur at the employment, a delayed recovery should be heavily scrutinized. Any treatment failing to progress after 6-12 weeks should be reevaluated for other issues both eye related and psychological. The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board will be offering training for all of the sections of the Medical Treatment Guidelines; the training schedule is available here.
If you have any questions about these new guidelines or how they impact your business, please contact:
- Alexis A. Close
- Christina M. Hassler
- Damon M. Gruber
- Sean J. McKinley
- Esther F. Omoloyin
- Or another member of the firm’s Workers Compensation team