Introduction: To investigate the demographics, acute management and compliance rates of severe chemical eye burn cases that presented to the largest eye hospital in the United Kingdom (UK).
Methods: All patients presenting to the Moorfields Eye Hospital emergency department are registered on the electronic patient administration system (PAS). A search of the PAS for patients assigned a preset diagnosis of 'chemical injury' was performed for the period from 1 January to 31 March 2016. The results of the PAS search and handwritten clerking notes were reviewed. Eyes that were found to have ≥ 33% limbal ischaemia or limbal staining, or corneal haze that obscured the details of the iris, were recorded as having severe chemical injuries.
Results: 55 patients had mild chemical eye burns, and 11 eyes of 10 patients had severe burns. Average patient age was 37 years (SD 22 years) and 22 years (SD 10 years) for mild and severe chemical injuries, respectively. 53% of the mild injuries and 90% of the severe injuries were in males. 7 (70%) of the 10 severe injuries were assault-related. In the severe chemical injuries group, first presentation to the emergency department was 24 h or more postinjury in 50% of the patients, 33% stopped ascorbate and citrate drops (ocular pain), 40% stopped attending clinical follow-up sessions, and 45% of the eyes had a final best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) of 6/18 or worse.
Conclusion: A significant proportion of the severe ocular chemical burns were assault-related. Delayed presentation and poor treatment adherence and follow-up attendance rates are significant challenges in patients with severe chemical burns. Patient education and public health awareness are important strategies. These findings also raise the question of whether these patients, who are mostly young males, should be admitted to improve treatment adherence rates and visual outcome.
Keywords: Adherence; Alkali burn; Ascorbic acid; Chemical burns; Chemical injuries; Dua et al. classification; Limbal ischemia; Ocular burns; Roper-Hall.