Chemical Ocular Burns: U.S. Epidemiologic Trends
JAMA Ophthalmology, October 2016
Haring et al. examined 4-year data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample to identify epidemiologic trends and risk factors for chemical ocular burns. Such information can help physicians and policy makers to effectively allocate resources for treatment and prevention of these injuries. The authors found, unexpectedly, that the highest risk group is very young children (1- and 2-year-olds).
Included in this study were 900 emergency departments and 143,985 events. Documented patient characteristics included age, sex, geographic region, type of primary insurance, income level, and setting of injury.
The median age at presentation was 32 years, and more than half of the patients were male (56.6%). Although nearly three-fourths of the injuries occurred in adults (aged 18-64 years), the rates of injury were highest for 1- and 2-year-olds (28.6 and 23.5 injuries per 100,000 population, respectively), a finding that differs from most literature on this topic. The injury rate for adults was 13.3 per 100,000. Residential location was the most common setting of injury, and 56.0% of burns were in patients from lower-income households (annual income ≤$48,749). Injuries were most common in the South and among patients with private health insurance.
The authors concluded that the risk of chemical ocular burns in very young children is much higher than previously believed. Public health efforts and policies should focus on proper storage and handling of chemicals in the home and workplace, as chemical burns can have long-term detrimental effects on vision and quality of life.
The original article can be found here.