Ocular trauma is the cause of blindness in approximately half a million people worldwide, and many more have suffered partial loss of sight. Trauma is often the most important cause of unilateral loss of vision, particularly in developing countries. There is a cumulative risk of ocular trauma and visual loss during life, but the true incidence of accidents involving the eyes is not known. Males tend to have more eye trauma than females, and this is already apparent from childhood; lower socioeconomic classes are also more associated with ocular trauma. The setting for the occurrence of trauma is most commonly the workplace and, increasingly, road accidents. On the other hand, domestic accidents are probably under-reported. Of particular importance in some developing countries is the occurrence of superficial corneal trauma in agricultural work, often leading to rapidly progressing corneal ulceration and visual loss. The impact of ocular trauma, in terms of need for medical care, loss of income and cost of rehabilitation services when indicated, clearly makes the strengthening of preventive measures very worthwhile.