Characteristics and causes of penetrating eye injuries reported to the National Eye Trauma System Registry, 1985-91

L. M. Parver, A. L. Dannenberg, B. Blacklow, C. J. Fowler, R. J. Brechner, J. M. Tielsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Ocular trauma is one of the most important preventable causes of visual impairment. The National Eye Trauma System was developed to provide optimal clinical care for severe ocular injuries, to foster research on eye injury, and to increase awareness of ocular trauma as a public health problem. From 1985 through 1991, the National Eye Trauma System Registry collected data on 2,939 cases of penetrating eye injury reported by ophthalmologists at 48 collaborating eye trauma centers in 28 States and Washington, DC. Eighty- three percent of the cases involved men; the median age of the patients was 27 years, ranging from 1 to 92 years of age. Seventy-seven percent of the injuries were unintentional, 22 percent were the result of assault, and 1 percent were self-inflicted. In 62 percent of the cases studied, the injured person's initial best corrected visual acuity in the injured eye was the ability to perceive hand motion, or worse. The settings in which the injuries occurred included the home (28 percent), the worksite (21 percent), at recreation (11 percent), and in transportation (8 percent). At the time of the injury, 1.5 percent of the injured persons were wearing safety glasses and 2.9 percent were wearing nonsafety glasses. There was evidence of definite or possible alcohol use by at least 24 percent of the injured persons and illicit drug use by 8 percent. The most frequent types of tissue damage included corneal or scleral laceration, traumatic cataract, intraocular foreign body, vitreous hemorrhage, and prolapse of intraocular tissue. Analyses of the causes and characteristics of ocular injuries reported to the National Eye Trauma System Registry will help identify high risk settings for such injuries. Results will be used to develop and implement interventions that will reduce the incidence of eye trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-632
Number of pages8
JournalPublic health reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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