Each year thousands of people are bitten by dogs. Dog bites can result in significant eye injuries requiring emergency care, surgical intervention, and long-term care. Ophthalmologists are often called on to repair dog bite injuries to the eyelids or even to the eye itself. Dog bite injuries often lead to claims where eye expert witness testimony is needed to assess damages and the prognosis for long-term consequences. The following case illustrates some of the ocular issues resulting from dog bites to the area of the eye.
Sheila is a 45 year-old woman who attended a dog training program. A wide variety of dogs ranging from toy dogs to Great Danes attended the training. As Sheila congratulated the owner of another dog, the dog suddenly and without warning jumped up and bit her upper eyelid. Paramedics arrived on the scene and found Sheila in total shock. Sheila had a laceration and puncture wound to the eyelid with swelling and bruising along the eyelid and brow.
Sheila was seen at the emergency room of a local hospital. The emergency room physician noted a curved 1.6 mm skin tear involving the right upper eyelid and tear duct. Fortunately the eyeball was intact and without signs of injury. Sheila was treated with tetanus shot and antibiotics. She was referred to an ophthalmologist for repair of her eyelid injuries.
The ophthalmologist noted that Sheila’s injury to the eyelid damaged the muscle of the eyelid so that it did not open the eyelid normally causing what is known as ptosis. Sheila was also concerned about the possibility of disfiguring keloid formation.
Sheila had reconstruction of the upper eyelid and brow. A tissue graft was performed and the damaged muscle of the eyelid was repaired. The tear duct system was also repaired to restire the natural flow of tears and to prevent excessive watering of the eye. The torn edges of the eyelid were reapproximated to produce an optimum cosmetic result.
An ophthalmology expert witness was needed to provide testimony that described the injury to Sheila’s upper eyelid, brow, and tear duct. The expert witness described in detail how the dog bite damaged the eyelid and damage sufficient to cause muscle damage and a droopy eyelid. The significance of tear duct injury was also clearly described in expert testimony. The complexity of repair to restore function and cosmetic appearance were other points that were important for the case.
Dog bite injuries involving the area of the eye can result in injury involving the eye, eyelids, tear duct, and brow. Eye expert witness testimony can be helpful to understand the mechanism of injury, degree of damage, and prognosis.