The epidemiology and wound healing following medical and surgical treatment of 101 patients with 131 severely burnt eyes due to chemical or thermal agents have been analyzed. Most of the accidents occurred at work (72.3%); the majority of the burns were chemical (84.2%), of which 79.8% were caused by alkalis. The long average duration of treatment on ward (5.2 +/- 4.1 months) and the high number of surgical interventions (8.0 +/- 8.0) indicate the difficulties in treatment and the delayed recovery of the affected eyes. Despite improved possibilities of immuno-suppression after keratoplasty (cyclosporin A) and new methods of surgery (Tenon plasty), the possibilities of an optical rehabilitation are still limited. A visual acuity of 6/60 or better was achieved in 39 eyes (32.2%). Immediate irrigation was reported in 56.1% of accidents at the place of work and in 42.8% of accidents sustained at home. There was a significant difference with respect to the extent of damage, the treatment on ward and the number of surgical interventions. The visual prognosis for eyes which received immediate irrigation was significantly improved. Eye protection was not used in any of the 101 cases. Spread of information is necessary for adequate emergency care for eye burns as well as for permanent employment of protective glasses in high-risk occupations.