Severe ocular chemical injury in the UK: a British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit study

Eye (Lond). 2024 Apr 18. doi: 10.1038/s41433-024-03073-6. Online ahead of print.


Background: Severe ocular chemical injury is a potentially devastating condition which most commonly affects men of working age. Workplace injuries previously accounted for the majority of incidents, but there has been a recent increase in assaults involving corrosive substances throughout the UK. The objectives of this study were to determine the incidence and demographics of severe ocular chemical injury and describe current surgical management practices.

Methods: Cases were prospectively ascertained through the British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit monthly reporting system during 2019-21. In total, 20 cases involving 29 eyes met the inclusion criteria.

Results: The reported incidence of severe ocular chemical injury during the pre-pandemic period of the study was 0.24 per million. Cases due to alleged assault have become more common than workplace injuries. A total of 81% patients had persistent complications at 6 months requiring ongoing treatment, and 60% patients required surgical intervention.

Conclusion: Although there are limitations with the case ascertainment methods, severe ocular chemical injury remains rare within the UK. There has been a proportionate increase in cases related to alleged assault compared with previous similar studies. Amniotic membrane grafting remains the most commonly performed surgical procedure in these patients.