Changing Trends in Emergency Ocular Trauma
British Journal of Ophthalmology
Published online Aug. 20, 2021
In an effort to understand the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on ocular trauma, Halawa et al. compared the quantity and type of eye injuries that presented to emergency departments (EDs) in 2020 with those during 2011-2019. They found that while the proportion of ED-treated ocular wounds was substantially lower in 2020, the severity of these injuries was more profound.
For their study, the authors gathered data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Their sample represented 100 hospitals that each had at least six ED beds and 24-hour service. To estimate the annual number of eye injuries in 2020, the authors used patient demographics and injury-related details. To calculate the incidence for prior years, they used NEISS database estimates along with U.S. Census Bureau population data. Statistical analyses were conducted to compare variables for the two study periods, including injury location and diagnosis.
Overall, 4,236 ocular injuries were seen in the selected hospitals’ EDs in 2020, compared with a yearly average of 4,959 in the previous period. Probability sampling weights indicated that ED-treated eye injuries declined by 21.2% in 2020. This coincided with a 25.9% reduction in the estimated annual incidence, from 62 per 100,000 in 2011-2019 to 46 per 100,000 in 2020 (p < .001). Comparisons of annual incidence showed that 2020 had far fewer injuries relating to sports and recreation products (p < .001) and occurring in schools or (p < .001) or sports facilities (p = .002).
Despite the low rate of ocular trauma in 2020, the injuries were more severe than in previous years. The frequency of ruptured globe, hyphema, laceration, and orbital fracture was much greater in 2020 than in 2011-2019 (all p < .001).
The authors surmised that shifts in living and working environments prompted by the pandemic, including stay-at-home orders, led to the decreased incidence and different mix of ocular injuries seen in 2020 than in previous years.
The original article can be found here.