Eye injuries in twentieth century warfare: a historical perspective.
With successive wars in the twentieth century, there has been a relative increase in injuries to the eye compared to injuries of other parts of the body. The main causes of eye injury have changed with advances in techniques and weaponry of warfare, with blast fragmentation injuries accounting for 50-80% of cases. Penetrating and perforating injuries are most common, and injuries associated with intraocular foreign bodies pose special diagnostic and management problems. Injuries are bilateral in 15-25% of cases. Injuries associated with chemical, nuclear, and laser weapons have distinct characteristics and epidemiology. Enucleation was commonly performed at the turn of the century, but incidence has declined with better understanding of the pathophysiology of ocular trauma, improved surgical techniques and sepsis control with antibiotics. Sympathetic ophthalmia appears to be uncommon and earlier fears of this complication seem to have been exaggerated. Timely evacuation to a surgical facility is important for a good visual prognosis and preservation of the globe. However, prevention of injuries with eye armor is ultimately the best management, and the need for a comprehensive eye protection program in the military cannot be overemphasized, especially since eye injuries pose important socioeconomic, as well as medical, problems.
Wong, TY; Seet, MB; Ang, CL
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