Using data compiled from the ophthalmic literature and WHO's Blindness Data Bank, the available information on eye injuries from an epidemiological and public health perspective has been extensively reviewed. This collection of data has allowed an analysis of risk factors, incidence, prevalence, and impact of eye injuries in terms of visual outcome. However, most of the estimates are based on information from More Developed Countries (MDCs). The severity of eye injuries can be assessed through proxy indicators such as: (i) potentially blinding bilateral injuries; (ii) open-globe injuries; (iii) endophthalmitis; (iv) enucleation or (v) defined visual impairment. Major risk factors for ocular injuries include age, gender, socioeconomic status and lifestyle. The site where the injury occurs is also related to a risk situation. Available information indicates a very significant impact of eye injuries in terms of medical care, needs for vocational rehabilitation and great socioeconomic costs. The global pattern of eye injuries and their consequences emerging from the present review, undertaken for planning purposes in the WHO Programme for the Prevention of Blindness, suggests that: some 55 million eye injuries restricting activities more than one day occur each year; 750,000 cases will require hospitalization each year, including some 200,000 open-globe injuries; there are approximately 1.6 million blind from injuries, an additional 2.3 million people with bilateral low vision from this cause, and almost 19 million with unilateral blindness or low vision. Further epidemiological studies are needed to permit more accurate planning of prevention and management measures; a standardized international template for reporting on eye injuries might be useful to this effect, along the lines of the reporting occurring through the US Eye Injury Registry.