Results of a new study showed that in 2001 nearly 2 million Americans experienced an eye injury that required treatment. Most eye injuries (51%) were treated in emergency departments, followed by private physicians offices (39%) and outpatient (8%) and inpatient (2%) facilities.

The injuries seen the most included superficial injuries, foreign bodies, contusions and open wounds. White men in their 20s had the highest number of eye injuries.

Study researchers gathered information about the causes, characteristics and estimates of eye injuries treated in emergency departments, inpatient and outpatient facilities and physicians offices from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Discharge Survey of 2001.

Private physicians represent an important source of care for eye injury in the United States, the researchers wrote.

However, this study did not look at data for injuries treated in optometric offices and specialty eye care facilities, says Richard Madonna, O.D., chief of the ocular disease and special testing service at the University Optometric Center of the State University of New York State College of Optometry.

While some practitioners working in private offices and emergency departments may have received special training in the treatment of eye injuries, many have not received this training nor do they have the type of equipment that is often needed to care for ocular injuries, Dr. Madonna says.

Optometrists should recognize that patients with ocular injuries would probably be better served in an optometrists office, and they should promote their skills and availability in taking care of these patients, he says.

McGwin G Jr., Xie A, Owsley C. Rate of eye injury in the United States. Arch Ophthalmol 2005 Jul;123(7):970-76.

Vol. No: 142:8Issue: 8/15/2005