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ROHM AND HAAS COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (05/07/80)

decided: May 7, 1980.

ROHM AND HAAS COMPANY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND NORBERT FREDERICK, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Norbert Frederick v. Rohm and Haas Company, No. A-72697.

COUNSEL

David L. White, with him Michael P. McKenna, for petitioner.

Alvin M. Chanin, for respondents.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 185]

Rohm and Haas Company, the employer of Norbert Frederick, has appealed from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board affirming an award to Mr. Frederick for the permanent loss of his left eye as provided by Section 306(c)(7) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 513(7).

On August 9, 1973 Mr. Frederick was splashed in the face with an unidentified but injurious chemical mixed with steam while in the course of his employment for Rohm and Haas as a utility operator. After a period of hospitalization for injuries to his eyes,

[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 186]

    mouth and other parts of his face, he returned to his former work. In January 1974 Rohm and Haas filed a petition for termination or modification of an agreement for disability payments earlier executed and Mr. Frederick answered that his disability had not ceased and claiming compensation for the specific loss of his left eye.

Mr. Frederick presented at the referee's hearings the testimony of a board certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Kenneth I. Michaile, an associate surgeon at Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia. Dr. Michaile examined Mr. Frederick in January 1974 and on three later occasions. On the first visit, Dr. Michaile did a complete opthalmological examination which disclosed severe damage to the cornea of Mr. Frederick's left eye in the stromal layer, consisting of a scar in the lower midportion of the cornea. The stromal layer is the third of the five layers of the cornea counting from the surface. Dr. Michaile also found a condition of tenderness of the epithelium, the first layer of the cornea, and evidence of neovascularization, meaning the formation of new blood vessels on the cornea at the stroma. Examination also revealed that Mr. Frederick's right eye was uninjured and that in the right eye he had visual acuity of 20/20. Visual acuity in the left eye was 20/70 or 20/50, going to 20/40 with a pinhole, that is, tunnel type vision. Dr. Michaile concluded that Mr. Frederick had lost roughly 50 percent of the visual acuity of his left eye. As will be later mentioned, Mr. Frederick was found to have 20/20 visual acuity using both eyes but that he suffered discomfort when using both eyes.

On later visits to Dr. Michaile, Mr. Frederick had severe complaints of excessive photosensitivity in the left eye which sympathetically involved the right eye. This condition, which the doctor believes is permanent, causes such discomfort in the left eye as to require it

[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 187]

    to be shielded to prevent tearing and closing. Nerves in both eyes cross and connect, as it were, in the back of the eyes, so that discomfort in one eye causes discomfort in the other. In Mr. Frederick's case, glare causing his left eye to tear and close has the effect of causing the right eye also to close. Dr. Michaile expressed the opinion that although Mr. Frederick has an uncomfortable 20/20 visual acuity with both eyes, he does not have satisfactory visual function with both eyes because of the glare phenomonem affecting the left eye. Dr. Michaile expressed the belief that Mr. Frederick in the presence of glare should ...


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