The effect of frontal air bags on eye injury patterns in automobile crashes.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


To investigate eye injuries resulting from frontal automobile crashes and to determine the effects of frontal air bags.


The National Automotive Sampling System database files from January 1, 1993, through December 31, 1999, were examined in a 3-part study that included an investigation of 22 236 individual crashes that occurred in the United States. A new 4-level eye injury severity scale that quantifies injuries based on recovery time, need for surgery, and possible loss of sight was developed.


Of all occupants who were exposed to an air bag deployment, 3% sustained an eye injury. In contrast, 2% of occupants not exposed to an air bag deployment sustained an eye injury. A closer examination of the type of eye injuries showed that there was a statistically significant increase in the risk of corneal abrasions for occupants who were exposed to an air bag compared with those who were not (P =.03). Of occupants exposed to an air bag deployment, 0.5% sustained a corneal abrasion compared with 0.04% of occupants who were not exposed to an air bag.


Using the new injury levels, it was shown that although occupants exposed to an air bag deployment had a higher risk of sustaining minor eye injuries, the air bag appears to have provided a beneficial exchange by reducing the number of severe eye injuries.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Duma, SM; Jernigan, MV; Stitzel, JD; Herring, IP; Crowley, JS; Brozoski, FT; Bass, CR

Published Date

  • November 2002

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 120 / 11

Start / End Page

  • 1517 - 1522

PubMed ID

  • 12427066

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1538-3601

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-9950

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1001/archopht.120.11.1517


  • eng