Background: A recent trend in automotive interior design has the airbag placed behind a seamless module cover. Airbag deployment through these seamless module covers may release foam particles at high velocities that could result in eye injuries.
Methods: Twenty-one tests (n = 21) were performed in which foam particles, similar to those observed from airbag deployments, were impacted onto porcine eyes. Injury analysis was performed by using fluorescein dye, ophthalmic ultrasound, and necropsy.
Results: As seen in case reports of airbag-induced eye injuries, corneal abrasions were the most recorded injuries in the porcine eye impact tests. A logistic regression analysis demonstrated that kinetic energy was the most significant contributor to injury (p = 0.0023), whereas foam type was a poor contributor to the model (p = 0.45). An injury risk curve was generated based on kinetic energy that gave a 50% risk of corneal abrasion at 0.183 J.
Conclusion: If the production of foam particles during airbag deployment is unavoidable, the injury risk function presented for the kinetic energy of the particles offers a design guide to minimize corneal abrasions.