The eye in child abuse

Childs Nerv Syst. 2022 Dec;38(12):2335-2344. doi: 10.1007/s00381-022-05610-8. Epub 2022 Jul 23.


Child physical abuse may result in a range of injuries to the globe and surrounding tissues. These injuries have varying degrees of specificity for abuse, and no pattern of injury is unique to abuse. Easily overlooked eye injuries in non-ambulatory infants often portend more severe abuse and require careful evaluation for occult injury when they are unexplained. Retinal hemorrhages are most often a sign of significant trauma and the severity of the hemorrhages generally parallels the severity of neurological trauma. Ophthalmologists contribute important data that more easily distinguish medical disease from trauma, but caution is needed in differentiating accidental from inflicted trauma. This distinction requires careful consideration of the complete clinical data and occasionally on additional law enforcement or child welfare investigation.

Keywords: Child abuse; Eye; Eye injury; Retinal hemorrhage.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse* / diagnosis
  • Craniocerebral Trauma*
  • Eye Injuries*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / etiology