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Characteristics, management and outcomes of chemical eye injuries in Victoria

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To the Editor: Chemical eye injuries are an ophthalmic emergency that can potentially result in visual impairment.1 A retrospective audit was performed to determine the characteristics, management and outcomes of chemical eye injuries in patients presenting to the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH).

The records of 176 patients who presented to the emergency department between 1 July 2012 and 31 December 2012 were analysed. The average age was 41 years (range, 7–85 years), with 110 (62.5%) being male. Forty-six patients (26.1%) had bilateral injuries. The characteristics, management and outcomes of injuries are outlined in the Box. Eighty-two injuries (46.6%) occurred at home, and 65 (36.9%) occurred in the workplace. Men accounted for 40 (48.8%) of the injuries that occurred at home and 52 (80.0%) of the workplace injuries. In 65 injuries (36.9%), cleaning was the activity at the time of injury. Of these, 33 injuries (50.8%) occurred at home and 24 injuries (36.9%) occurred in the workplace. At the time of injury, 123 patients (69.9%) were not wearing eye protection, with nine (5.1%) wearing spectacles alone. The causative agent was alkaline in 114 cases (64.8%).

One-hundred and thirty-eight injuries (78.4%) were irrigated before arrival to hospital, and 132 patients (75.0%) required further irrigation on presentation to…