Objective: To estimate the cumulative lifetime prevalence, nature, and consequences of ocular injuries in a multiracial urban environment.
Methods: Self-reported lifetime ocular injuries were ascertained in a population-based sample of persons aged 40 years or older residing in 16 clusters in east Baltimore, Md. A total of 5308 subjects underwent a screening eye examination and were interviewed about lifetime ocular injuries.
Results: Eight hundred thirty ocular injury incidents were reported by 762 (14.4%) subjects. The maximum number of ocular injuries reported in a lifetime was four. At least one injury was reported by 22.5% of black men, 20.3% of white men, 12.2% of black women, and 7.7% of white women. No treatment was sought for 18% of these injuries (22% black and 14% white subjects). The prevalence of visual impairment due to trauma per 1000 people was 22.3 among black men, 7.4 among white men, 6.7 among black women, and 3.5 among white women. The prevalence of blindness due to trauma in at least one eye was 21.2 per 1000 among black men, 3.7 times the rate among white men. Based on reports of injuries in the year prior to interview, the annual incidence of medically treated ocular injuries per 1000 people was 5.6 among black men, 4.1 among white men, 5.3 among black women and 1.8 among white women aged 40 years and older.
Conclusions: Lifetime prevalences of ocular injuries were similar among both black and white men, but the visual consequences of the injuries were more severe among black men.