According to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2015, falling was the number one cause of eye injuries overall resulting in hospitalization over a 10-year period. The study also found that the cost to treat eye injuries in hospitals increased by 62% during a 10-year study period, now resulting in over $20,000 per injury. 

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University set out to identify the top causes of eye injuries as well as the associated hospital costs to better address prevention efforts. As serious eye trauma injuries can be expensive to treat, these preventive efforts could reduce the rate of eye injury and lower healthcare costs for eye trauma inpatient visits, they stated. 

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For a study sample of almost 47,000 patients aged 0–80 years diagnosed with ocular trauma from 2002–2011, study authors assessed the total cost of hospitalization, cause of injury, type of injury, and length of hospital stay. Study patients were then categorized by age. Key findings from the study include:

  • Falls are the leading cause of eye injury: Most of the 8,425 falls recorded happened to those ≥60 years. Among the types of falls, slipping caused nearly 3,000 eye injuries. Falling down stairs was cited as a cause of eye injury 900 times.

  • Fighting was second most common cause of ocular trauma: In total, nearly 8,000 hospitalizations for eye injuries were caused by fighting and various types of assault. “Unarmed fight or brawl” came in at No. 2 overall among specific causes of eye injuries requiring hospitalization, but was the top cause reported for ages 10–59.

  • Kids injured in accidents, vehicle collisions and by sharp objects: For children ages ≤10, the leading cause of eye injury was being struck by accident by a person or object. Car crashes and accidentally being pierced or cut by a sharp object (eg, scissors) were second and third on the list of causes.

  • The median cost of treating these eye injuries shot up from $12,430–$20,116 between the years 2002–2011, an increase of 62%. The researchers found costs to be higher at large hospitals and for older patients. Income did not correlate with costs.

Regarding the higher cost to treat eye injuries, Christina Prescott, MD, PhD, the study’s lead researcher, stated that it may be due to drug prices or administrative costs. “Either way, it’s clear we need more targeted interventions to help reduce these types of injuries, many of which are preventable.”

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