Background: Ocular trauma has significant impact on the patient's future quality of life. Most of the hospital-based studies tend to underestimate the occurrence of minor ocular trauma. In Torino the large majority of patients with ocular trauma are referred to a single hospital with a 24-hour Emergency Department (Ospedale Oftalmico). This offers the unique opportunity to analyze minor and major traumatic injuries in an industrial Italian city.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of all patients referred to the Eye Emergency Department, during a 1-year period (January 1 2006 to December 31 2006), was carried out. Records included demographic data, details of the eye injury, and diagnosis according to the classification of ocular trauma. The 1-year incidence of eye trauma was calculated on the Torino population obtained from the Central Anagraphic Office.
Results: A total of 73,933 patients examined by the ophthalmologists working at the Ophthalmic Emergency Department 10,620 had eye injuries related to trauma (1.26%). The overall one year incidence of ocular trauma was 1.13%, and most of the casualties occurred in the 24-45 years age range. 111 patients were hospitalized for severe trauma (incidence 0.012%). Most of the injuries occurred at work (57.12%) or at home (35.15%) and were conjunctival or corneal abrasions or corneal foreign bodies (work: 54.21%, home: 32.79%). Although minor, these injuries determined a significant loss of working days (15,674). Most of the school injuries occurred before 15 years of age. At work, a higher incidence of conjunctival/corneal abrasions and foreign bodies occurred in the 25-45 years range, whereas open-globe injuries had a similar incidence in the 15-24 and 25-44 age groups (0.16% and 0.20%), suggesting that younger workers are more susceptible to severe trauma.
Conclusions: Although most of the injuries seen in an Emergency Department in Italy were minor, they were associated with a significant morbidity. In Torino, most of the traumatic eye injuries occurred at work or at home. Preventive and informative measures are warranted to reduce the incidence and prevalence of eye casualties.