Minor eye trauma
How to manage most eye injuries
- By: Felicity Avann, Andrew Curran, Raymond Radford
In the United States 8-13 eye injuries occur per 1000 people a year.1 Most eye injuries in patients who present to the emergency department are minor. Common causes are sporting incidents, assaults, road traffic collisions, and occupational injuries.2 We explore minor eye injuries that medical students and junior doctors should be able to diagnose and manage in the emergency department. We do not cover major eye trauma, which requires immediate referral to an ophthalmologist (box 1).3 Remember that minor injuries can coexist with severe eye injuries.
A thorough ophthalmic history (including box 2) needs to find out the nature of the injury, especially if it may have involved a sharp or high speed object, which could have penetrated the eyeball. For example, hammering metal against metal should raise a high index of suspicion because high speed fragments of metal can easily penetrate the cornea and can be easily missed on