The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) recently granted the EC claim of a seafarer due to his work-related pterygium or eye mass.

The seafarer was employed as an able-bodied seaman from February 2021 until October 2021. On July 2021, his right eye was accidentally hit by a mooring rope. A day after the accident, a whitish mass was observed in his right eye. He underwent teleconsultation and was advised to take some medication.

Upon arrival in Manila, Philippines in November 2021, he underwent operation on his right eye with a postoperative diagnosis of pterygium. He filed for EC claim through the SSS Calamba Branch but the claim was disapproved on the ground that his illness cannot be attributed to an accident as pterygium is not caused by trauma.

The seafarer proceeded to file his appeal at the ECC.

Upon review, the ECC ruled in favor of the seafarer.

According to the Commission, although trauma may not be the direct cause of pterygium, the accident that befall the seafarer can have a contributory effect on the development of his illness. Furthermore, under the “Increased Risk” theory, an illness is compensable under the EC Program when the employee can show reasonable proof that his illness was caused by the nature of his work or working conditions. In this case, appellant’s duties and responsibilities as an able-bodied seaman entail exposure to UV light. Medical studies showed that persistent exposure to UV light is a major factor in the development of pterygium. Hence, the ECC granted EC disability benefits to appellant for his work-related pterygium.

The ECC reviews appealed EC claims denied by the Social Security System (SSS) or the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) in relation to the compensability of illnesses, injuries, or death under the Employees’ Compensation Program,

Atty. M. Basal – REU8