Ghafouri A, Burgess SK, Hrdlicka ZK, Zagelbaum BM
Automobile air bags have recently gained acceptance as an effective measure to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with motor vehicle accidents. This report describes 11 cases of air bag-related ocular trauma and reviews cases previously reported in the literature, for a total of 32 patients and 39 eyes. This is the first comprehensive report on various types of ocular trauma related directly to air bag deployment. The most common type of ocular injuries seen are to the eyelids (23 patients, 28 eyes), conjunctiva (21 patients, 25 eyes), and cornea (23 patients, 28 eyes). Hyphema was frequently seen (10 patients, 11 eyes). Several serious cases of vision-threatening injuries, including retinal detachment, retinal dialysis, scleral rupture, and dislocated lens, were also reported. The following patterns were found: 55% of patients were male and 45% female; ages ranged from 2 to 81 years with a mean age of 36 years; the right eye was involved in 35% of cases, the left in 38%, and 27% were bilateral. Based on these findings, it is recommended that all patients who present with air bag-related ocular trauma undergo a complete ophthalmologic examination because the high-velocity blunt trauma causes ocular injuries that may be more serious than they initially appear. Further refinements in design and deployment need to be made to reduce the frequency and severity of air bag-related ocular injuries.
Department of Ophthalmology, North Shore University Hospital, New York University School of Medicine, Manhasset, USA.