Changing trends in ocular trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA


Halawa OA, Friedman DS, Roldan AM, Zebardast N. Changing trends in ocular trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA. Br J Ophthalmol 2021;

Date Published:

2021 Aug 20


BACKGROUND/AIMS: The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with a decline in emergency department (ED) presentations for trauma. The purpose of this study is to compare the estimated number and characteristics of eye injuries in 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, to those in 2011-2019. METHODS: A stratified probability sample of US ED-treated eye injuries was used to calculate the estimated annual number and incidence of these injuries in 2020, the year of the pandemic, and 2011-2019 (prepandemic years). Two-sample t-tests and Pearson χ2 were used to assess differences in demographics and injury characteristics. For multiple comparisons, Bonferroni correction was applied. RESULTS: The estimated number of ED-treated eye injuries per year was 152 957 (95% CI 132 637 to 176 153) in 2020 and 194 142 (95% CI 191 566 to 196 401) in 2011-2019. The annual incidence of ED-treated eye injuries was lower in 2020, at 46 per 100 000 population than in 2011-2019, at 62 per 100 000 per year (p<0.001). In 2020 vs 2011-2019, there was a higher incidence of ruptured globes (0.5 per 100 000 vs 0.3 per 100 000 per year, p<0.001), hyphemas (0.6 per 100 000 vs 0.4 per 100 000 per year, p<0.001), lacerations (1.0 per 100 000 in 2020 vs 0.8 per 100 000 per year, p<0.001) and orbital fractures (0.3 per 100 000 vs 0.03). CONCLUSION: The estimated incidence of eye injuries presenting to the ED was significantly lower in 2020 than in 2011-2019, but there was a higher estimated incidence of severe eye injuries. Changes in living and work environments due to the COVID-19 pandemic were likely associated with the differences in ocular trauma presentations observed in this study.

Last updated on 09/01/2021