Blindness after facial trauma: epidemiology, incidence and risk factors: a 27-year cohort study of 5708 patients

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Abstract

Objectives.

This was a 27-year study of a cohort of 5708 patients who had sustained maxillofacial fractures. Our purpose was to present the etiology, mechanism of trauma, site, and concomitant injuries that led to visual loss. We hypothesize that fractures caused by high-energy impact of the midface may be associated with blindness. A discussion of the treatment approaches is also included.

Study Design.

The study included 5708 patients who had sustained a maxillofacial fracture during the years 1985–2012. Patients' records were reviewed for gender, age, fracture site, etiology of trauma, concomitant injuries, method of treatment, length of hospital stay, and cause of blindness. The relationship of the above variables to blindness was investigated.

Results.

The incidence of loss of vision was 0.34%. A very strong association between firearm injuries and blindness was observed (P < .001). These patients spent much longer time in hospital (P < .01) and suffered serious concomitant injuries involving the brain.

Conclusions.

Retrobullbar hemorrhage should be treated with lateral canthotomy, whereas in traumatic optic neuropathy, observation seems to be the safest thing to do. In patients with penetrating injuries of the globe, the immediate involvement of an ophthalmic surgeon is of paramount importance.

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