Retinal hemorrhages in children following fatal motor vehicle crashes: a case series

Arch Ophthalmol. 2008 Jun;126(6):800-4. doi: 10.1001/archopht.126.6.800.


Objective: To demonstrate the severity of ocular findings in young children who died of injuries due to motor vehicle crashes.

Methods: Case series of 10 children younger than 3 years who were fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 2002. All children underwent autopsy that included eye examination. All available medical and autopsy records, pathology slides and photographs, and police and traffic department reports were reviewed for each case.

Results: Eight patients had retinal hemorrhages, which extended into the periphery in 13 eyes and were bilateral in 7 patients. Three patients had elevated circular retinal folds. Six patients had hemorrhages below the internal limiting membrane, but no patients had deeper splitting of the retina. Nine patients had optic nerve sheath hemorrhages.

Conclusion: The association of extensive, sometimes severe, ocular hemorrhages with fatal accidental trauma, compared with previous reports of accidental trauma with no or few hemorrhages, indicates the severity of injury required to cause hemorrhages of this magnitude.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic* / mortality
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / etiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / pathology
  • Eye Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Eye Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Optic Nerve / blood supply
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / pathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index