Experts call for more attention to eye injuries while treating patients of road accidents

MUMBAI / January 12, 2023: Road accidents account for significant percentage of eye injuries in the country, leading to vision loss in large number of patients, but these are entirely preventable by following simple precautions and safety measures while driving, eye surgeons from Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, Mumbai, a unit of Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital Group, have said during the ongoing National Road Safety Week.

Road accidents account for 34% of all cases of eye injuries reported in India, according to estimates.[1] Eyes are very sensitive, complex, and delicate organs which are prone to damage due to accidents and mishaps while driving. Eye trauma may impact the eyelids, cornea, the orbital wall, the white outer layer of the eyeball (sclera), the membrane that protects the eye (conjunctiva), etc. It may lead to conditions like ruptured globe of the eye, traumatic cataract, detachment of the retina, damage to the optic nerve, loss or hemorrhage of the gel-like fluid that fills the eye (vitreous), and so on. Many of these are vision-threatening conditions, warn eye surgeons.

Calling for more attention to eye injuries in emergency department of hospitals while attending to victims of road accidents, Padma Shree Recipient Prof. Dr S Natarajan, Chief – Clinical Services at Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, Mumbai, a unit of Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital Group, said: “When a road accident victim is brought to a hospital, eyes are often the last part of the body to be checked by trauma surgeons, as they focus on bodily injuries like fractures and head trauma to save the patient’s life. In trauma injuries, especially head trauma, eyes should be examined early for damage. An ophthalmologist needs to be called immediately if eye damage is suspected, even if the patient is in coma.”

“We need a change in mindset and treatment protocol at emergency departments of hospitals so that eyes are given simultaneous attention as soon as the patient arrives. This is currently not happening. For example, in case of a head injury, it is common to immediately call a brain surgeon to examine the patient, but an eye surgeon is rarely called. We need more awareness among doctors treating road accident victims so that eyes are given early attention for signs of damage by an eye trauma specialist,” Dr. S Natarajan added.

Technology is so advanced today that if the center of cornea or retina and the optic nerve are not involved in the damage, the chances of restoring the vision of the patient are quite good, Prof. Dr S Natarajan said, adding that prevention is always better than cure. “People should make full use of protective measures while driving such as helmets, seat belts, head rests and airbags. Avoid keeping any object between yourself and the steering wheel. Try to wear glasses while driving, if possible. The common practice of placing a young child on the lap of a parent on the front seat of the car should be strictly avoided,” he said.

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