Is crow's feet sign a reliable indicator of corneal injury in facial burns?

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2008 Nov;61(11):1325-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2007.09.008. Epub 2007 Oct 25.


Facial burns occur commonly, although they rarely result in serious ophthalmological injuries. Despite this, failure to identify and manage minor eye injuries can have serious consequences. When the blink reflex is forcibly suppressed, the cornea is left exposed, resulting in serious injury. One indicator of possible corneal injury is the absence of 'Crow's feet sign'. Crow's feet sign describes the sparing of the skin creases or crow's feet around the eye with forced eyelid closure. The implication is that the patient was conscious at the time of injury and therefore able to protect the eye from ocular injury. We present a consecutive series of 145 people with facial burns attending the burns unit at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham over a 2-year period. Demographics, cause, presence of inhalational injury and outcome were examined for all patients. Eleven patients were diagnosed with ocular injury, and none of these patients had crow's feet sign. To date, we have found 100% correlation between the presence of crow's feet sign and the absence of ocular injury. We would recommend that clinicians are alert to the absence of this sign as a marker of possible eye injury.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Corneal Injuries*
  • Eye Burns / diagnosis*
  • Eye Burns / etiology
  • Eye Burns / pathology
  • Face / pathology
  • Facial Injuries / etiology
  • Facial Injuries / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Skin Aging