Severe eye injuries in children that resulted in emergency room visits in the United States declined by 26% over an eight-year period, according to a new study in JAMA Ophthalmology.1 Still, pediatric acute ocular injuries remain prevalent and should be tracked to help establish prevention strategies, the study authors said.

A research team from Ohio studied the trend in pediatric acute ocular injury in the United States from 2006 to 2014 by reviewing a national sample of emergency department visits. The study included approximately 376,000 children from newborn to 17 years of age with acute traumatic ocular injuries. Researchers studied trends in the incidence of ocular injuries by age, risk of vision loss and cause of injury.

During this time period, roughly163,431 children reported to the emergency room with an acute ocular injury. Injured children were more often male (63.0%). In addition, younger children more frequently visited emergency rooms for acute ocular injuries: 35.3% were birth to age four, while 20.6% were between the ages of 10 and 14. Researchers found injuries commonly resulted from a strike to the eye (22.5%) and affected the adnexa (43.7%). Most injuries had a low risk for vision loss (84.2%), with only 1.3% of injuries being high risk.  

The study reported that between 2006 and 2014, pediatric acute ocular injuries decreased by 26.1%. This decline existed across all patient demographic characteristics, injury patterns, vision loss categories and for most injury causes. However, researchers found increases in injuries related to sports and household/domestic activities. The greatest decrease in high-risk injuries occurred with motor vehicle crashes, down by 79.8%, and guns, down by 68.5%.

1. Matsa E, Shi J, Wheeler KK, McCarthy T, et al. Trends in U.S. emergency department visits for pediatric acute ocular injury. JAMA Ophthalmol. June 7, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].