Intraocular foreign body injuries during Operation Iraqi Freedom

Ophthalmology. 2005 Oct;112(10):1829-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2005.04.024.


Objective: To evaluate the number of intraocular foreign body (IOFB) injuries that occurred in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and to determine the cause of injury, the type of foreign body, and the associated injuries to other body systems.

Design: Retrospective, noncomparative, interventional case series.

Participants: Fifty-five United States military personnel with an IOFB injury during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Intervention: Pars plana vitrectomy, foreign body removal, and additional surgical procedures as the clinical situation dictated.

Main outcome measures: Cause of injury, size of corneal/scleral laceration, number of foreign bodies, type of foreign body, time to foreign body removal, visual acuity, number of enucleations, and injuries to other body systems.

Results: The foreign body was caused by a propelled explosive in 20 patients (36%) and a nonpropelled explosive in 31 patients (56%), and the cause of the foreign body was not known in 4 patients (7%). The size of the laceration of the cornea and/or sclera averaged 5.4 mm (range, 0.2-18). There were an average of 1.7 foreign bodies in the injured eye (range, 1-6). The size of those foreign bodies measured ranged from <1 mm to 12 x 14 mm. The most common type of foreign body was metal (68%), followed by glass (14%), stone/cement (14%), bone (5%), and cilia (3%). The time from injury to foreign body removal averaged 20.6 days (range, 0-90). No cases of endophthalmitis were seen. The most common associated injury was to the upper extremity, face, lower extremity, and neck.

Conclusions: Unlike trauma in the civilian sector, IOFB injuries in a military setting tend to be caused by explosive devices, which often result in multiple foreign bodies and simultaneous injuries to other body systems. Because of the lack of availability of specialty care in the combat theater, there is often a delay in removal of the foreign body.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Corneal Injuries
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological
  • Explosions
  • Eye Foreign Bodies / diagnosis
  • Eye Foreign Bodies / epidemiology*
  • Eye Foreign Bodies / surgery
  • Eye Injuries, Penetrating / diagnosis
  • Eye Injuries, Penetrating / epidemiology*
  • Eye Injuries, Penetrating / surgery
  • Female
  • Glass
  • Humans
  • Iraq / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Metals
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sclera / injuries
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vitrectomy
  • Warfare*


  • Metals