Nearly two million Americans are treated for eye injuries per year, with males experiencing twice the rate of injury than that of females, according to a study in the July issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.
Because eye injuries are rarely serious enough to require hospitalization, to understand the extent of eye injuries in the U.S., inpatient and outpatient facilities, in addition to other settings, must be considered, according to background information in the article.
Gerald McGwin, Jr., M.S., Ph.D., from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues combined data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, and the National Hospital Discharge Survey for 2001, to estimate eye injuries in the U.S. Eye injuries treated in emergency departments, inpatient and outpatient facilities, and private physicians' offices, as well as their causes and characteristics, were included in the study.
The researchers found that in 2001 an estimated 1,990,872 individuals (6.98 per 1,000) experienced an eye injury in the U.S. Most of the eye injuries were treated in emergency departments (50.7 percent); 38.7 percent were treated in private physicians' offices, 8.1 percent in outpatient facilities, and 2.5 percent in inpatient facilities. Overall, males had more than twice the eye injury rate than that of females (9.5 injuries per 1,000 compared with 4.5 injuries per 1,000). White males in their 20s had the highest rate of eye injury (more than 20 injuries per 1,000). Injury rates were highest for superficial injuries, foreign bodies, contusions, and open wounds.
The authors state: "While the epidemiologic pattern of eye injury presented in this article is consistent with previous research from other settings, some important differences emerged. Private physicians represent an important source of care for eye injury in the United States, particularly for middle-aged adults. Future research should focus on a more detailed documentation of the causes of eye injuries as well as long-term functional outcomes as, despite the relatively frequent nature of eye injury documented in this study, injuries with potential visual significance more accurately reflect the public health impact of eye injury in the United States."