Ocular injuries caused by plastic bullet shotguns in Switzerland

Injury. 2004 Oct;35(10):963-7. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2003.11.020.


Five patients with blunt ocular trauma due to hard plastic shotguns used by police forces during riots presented to the Ophthalmology Department of University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, between December 2000 and May 2001. All five eyes suffered ocular concussion. Three of five eyes presented with severe damage to the anterior segment of the eye, two of these eyes showed combined involvement of the anterior and posterior segments. Two patients completely recovered their visual acuity in the injured eye, two reached a final visual acuity of 6/12 and in one case the injured eye was legally blinded. Three of the patients claimed to have been uninvolved bystanders at the riots. The theoretical probability of hitting the head/neck area or one of the two eyes for each shot fired at a person from different operational distances is calculated and ophthalmological and technical aspects of this special type of plastic bullet shotgun used in Switzerland are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Eye Segment / injuries
  • Eye Injuries, Penetrating / etiology*
  • Eye Injuries, Penetrating / physiopathology
  • Eye Injuries, Penetrating / surgery
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Riots / prevention & control
  • Switzerland
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / etiology*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / physiopathology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / surgery