Eye injuries of road accident victims need prompt attention in trauma wards: Experts

BENGALURU / January 17, 2023: Road accidents account for significant percentage of eye injuries in the country, leading to vision loss in large number of patients, but these can be prevented by following simple precautions and safety measures while driving, eye surgeons from Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital in Bengaluru have said.

Road accidents account for 34% of all cases of eye injuries reported in India.[1] Eyes are very sensitive, complex, and delicate organs which are prone to damage due to accidents and mishaps while driving.

Said Dr. Mohanraj, Senior Consultant – Vitreo Retinal Services, Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital, Bengaluru: “Many types of eye injuries can occur in road accidents, depending on the nature of trauma. In casualty at our hospital, we see a range of injuries impacting the bones around the eyes, the eyelids, the cornea, the sclera, the iris, the lens, the retina, and the ocular nerve. There can also be conditions like bleeding into the eye, traumatic cataract or detachment of the retina. In severe cases, the eye can even rupture (open globe injury). Foreign bodies, both metallic and non-metallic, can get embedded on the surface of eye or even inside the eye, with devastating effects. Many of these are vision-threatening conditions.”

Calling for more attention to eye injuries in emergency department of hospitals while attending to victims of road accidents, Dr. Mohanraj 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 to save the patient’s life. However, it is important to get an eye checkup done by an ophthalmologist without delay, especially if the patient has suffered head trauma, as many eye injuries require immediate diagnosis and treatment. An ophthalmologist needs to be called immediately to the casualty if eye damage is suspected, even if the patient is in coma.”

“We need a change in treatment protocol at casualty wards of hospitals so that eyes are given simultaneous attention as soon as the patient arrives. This is currently not happening. 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. Mohanraj added.

Human eyes are very complex and so too are their injuries. These require expert care to reduce long-term disability and restore functionality of the eyes, said the doctor. “Eyelid tears need to be repaired as they are the main protective structure of the eyeball. Bony features around the eye are treated depending upon the severity of damage. The tears of the coats of the eye require closure to prevent infection and maintain integrity of the eyeball. The injury to lens in the eye can lead to traumatic cataract or dislocation. In such a case, the dislocated lens is fixed using a special glue. Bleeding into the eyes and retinal detachment need vitreoretinal surgery at a referral center,” the doctor 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, Dr. Mohanraj said, adding that prevention is always better than cure by following simple precautions and safety measures.

“People should make full use of protective measures while driving, such as helmets with visors, seat belts, head rests and airbags. 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,” the doctor added.

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