Purpose: To describe the prevalence and risk factors of ocular trauma in a representative sample of Australians aged 40 and over who reside in the state of Victoria.
Design: Population-based cross-sectional study.
Participants: Australians aged 40 years and older living in Victoria.
Methods: Cluster, stratified sampling was used to identify permanent residents for a population-based study of eye disease. A standardized examination that included visual acuity and information about ocular trauma was conducted.
Main outcome measures: Self-reported history of ocular trauma and circumstances surrounding the events.
Results: A total of 3271 (83% of eligible) Melbourne residents and 1473 (92% of eligible) rural residents were examined. The overall rate of eye injury history in Victoria was 21.1% (95% confidence limits [CL] 19.6%, 22.5%). Men were far more likely than women to have ever experienced an eye injury (34.2% versus 9.9%), and rural men were more likely than Melbourne men to have ever had an eye injury (42.1 % versus 30.5%). The workplace accounted for the majority of eye injuries (60%), followed by the home (24%). The location with the highest percent of people reporting the use of eye protection at the time of the injury was the workplace (18.5%); the workplace accounted for the lowest rate of hospitalization (4.9%). The industry with highest cumulative rate of eye injuries was communication (14 per 1000), whereas the highest occupation-specific cumulative rates of eye injury were recorded for tradespersons (18 per 1000).
Conclusions: Although ocular trauma is usually not associated with bilateral vision impairment, it is a major public health problem in Australia. Rural men, people engaged in hammering or sport, and those in the trades are at highest risk and require specific, targeted, prevention messages.