News Release

Falls and brawls top list of causes for eye injuries in United States

Hospital costs for ocular trauma rise 62 percent over a decade, according to study presented at AAO 2015, the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Academy of Ophthalmology

Falling is the No. 1 Cause of Eye Injuries

image: Falling is the No. 1 cause of eye injuries. view more 

Credit: American Academy of Ophthalmology

LAS VEGAS - Nov. 14, 2015 - Falling and fighting top the list of major causes of eye injuries resulting in hospitalization over a 10-year period, according to research presented today at AAO 2015, the 119th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Falling was the No. 1 cause of eye injuries overall and accounted for more than 8,425 hospitalizations. Researchers also found that the cost to treat eye injuries at hospitals rose by 62 percent during that period and now exceeds $20,000 per injury.

Serious ocular trauma injuries include orbital fractures and being pierced by objects. These injuries can be expensive to treat, and in many cases are preventable. With that in mind, researchers at Johns Hopkins University decided to identify the most common causes of eye injuries as well as the associated hospital costs so that prevention efforts could be better targeted. Such interventions could perhaps lower eye injury rates and overall health care costs for eye trauma inpatient visits.

They identified a sample of nearly 47,000 patients ages 0 to 80 diagnosed with ocular trauma from 2002 to 2011 using a national health care database. They examined the total cost of hospitalization, cause of injury, type of injury and length of hospital stay. The researchers then grouped injured people by age. Their findings include:

  • Falls are the leading cause of eye injury: Most of the 8,425 falls recorded happened to those 60 and older. Among the types of falls, slipping caused nearly 3,000 eye injuries. Falling down stairs was cited as a cause of eye injury 900 times.

  • Fighting was second most common cause of ocular trauma: In total, nearly 8,000 hospitalizations for eye injuries were caused by fighting and various types of assault. "Unarmed fight or brawl" came in at No. 2 overall among specific causes of eye injuries requiring hospitalization, but was the top cause reported for ages 10 to 59.

  • Kids injured in accidents, vehicle collisions and by sharp objects: For children ages 10 and under, the leading cause of eye injury was being struck by accident by a person or object. Car crashes and accidentally being pierced or cut by a sharp object (such as scissors) were second and third on the list of causes.

  • The median cost of treating these eye injuries shot up from $12,430 to $20,116 between the years 2002 to 2011, an increase of 62 percent. The researchers found costs to be higher at large hospitals and for older patients. Income did not correlate with costs. However, the Johns Hopkins team says that other factors not included in the study could play a role, too.

"While we have some clues, we still can't be certain why it's more expensive to get treated for an eye injury now than before," said Christina Prescott, M.D., Ph.D., the study's lead researcher and an ophthalmology professor at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University. "It could be related to drug prices or administrative costs. Either way, it's clear we need more targeted interventions to help reduce these types of injuries, many of which are preventable."

Members of the media who would like a copy of the poster or wish to speak to an expert about the findings should contact the American Academy of Ophthalmology Public Relations Department at

Economic Trends in Eye-Related Hospitalizations (PO118) was presented at AAO 2015, the 119th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Known as the place "Where all of Ophthalmology Meets,"™ the Academy's annual meeting takes place Nov. 13-17 at the Sands Expo/Venetian in Las Vegas. It is the largest ophthalmology conference in the world. For more information, see AAO 2015 highlights.


About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, serving more than 32,000 members worldwide. The Academy's mission is to advance the lifelong learning and professional interests of ophthalmologists to ensure that the public can obtain the best possible eye care. For more information, visit

The Academy is also a leading provider of eye care information to the public. The Academy's EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit or to learn more.

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