For Children, Eyeglasses Pose Risk of Injury

May 14, 2005

An estimated 96 million people in the United States wear prescription eyeglasses. According to Ohio researchers at Columbus Children's Research Institute (CCRI) on the campus of Columbus Children's Hospital, during a two-year period of time, more than 26,000 people were treated in emergency departments in the US for eyeglass-related injuries - 6% of whom had an injury that resulted in admission. Those researchers also found that the mechanism of the injury varied with the wearer's age.

An estimated 96 million people in the United States wear prescription eyeglasses. According to Ohio researchers at Columbus Children's Research Institute (CCRI) on the campus of Columbus Children's Hospital, during a two-year period of time, more than 26,000 people were treated in emergency departments in the US for eyeglass-related injuries - 6% of whom had an injury that resulted in admission. Those researchers also found that the mechanism of the injury varied with the wearer's age.

"So many people wear eyeglasses, but until now, little was known about the injuries eyeglasses pose when broken," said Huiyun Xiang, MD, MPH, PhD, of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at CCRI and assistant professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health, in a presentation here today. "Analyzing the data, we were able to look at the mechanism of injury by both gender and age, with a specific focus on injuries among children."

More than 21% of the 26,000 injuries occurred in children between 2 and 17 years of age. Among children between 2 and 9 years, the leading mechanism was a fall (55% of injuries in this age group). Among children between 10 and 17 years, nearly 40% of injuries occurred because of sports activities; another 10% were the result of a car crash. Males and females were equally likely to sustain an injury (53 % and 47%, respectively).

Dr. Xiang and his team evaluated data from 2002 and 2003 extracted from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which analyzes consumer product injuries. Each case of eyeglasses-related injury-Identified by a code-was examined to identify the cause of the injury.

"These findings are important because, by first understanding the mechanism of the injury likely to affect children, we can begin to look at safety measures to prevent the injuries, such as safer eyeglasses designs and use of safety goggles during sports," said Sara Sinclair, MPH, research assistant at the Center.