Each year more than 300,000 individuals with eye injuries are seen in emergency rooms and urgent care centers across the United States. Many of these injuries cause significant damage to the eye. Patients who sustain eye injuries can have temporary symptoms such as severe pain from a superficial corneal abrasion, or suffer permanent loss of vision that impairs that ability to work and live normal lives. Testimony from an eye injury expert can help define the nature and extent of injury and help assist in the long-term prognosis.
Workplace injuries are most common among laborers, construction workers, and workers who work around hazardous chemicals and materials. When seen at a medical facility, individuals often have vision testing and a screening examination of the eye. The use of fluorescein dye and cobalt-blue light can assist in determining the presence and extent of a corneal abrasion. Patients are often dilated with a caution against driving because of blurred vision from pupil dilation. Many facilities have a slit lamp and handheld ophthalmoscope to magnify under bright light and inspect details in the eye.
Foreign bodies of the eye can be superficial, embedded with the top layer of the eyelid or eyeball, or can actually penetrate inside the eye. It is important for the medical provider to identify any and all foreign bodies that may be present. An X-Ray or scan may be helpful in cases when a foreign body is suspected. Eversion of the eyelids is useful when inspecting the eye since many foreign bodies may become trapped behind the lower or upper eyelid. Primary care medical providers can refer the injured person to an ophthalmologist, especially in unusual or complicated cases.
Foreign bodies that are limited to the surface of the eye can sometimes be removed with a wisk of a cotton-tipped applicator after instilling a topical anesthetic eyedrop. Foreign bodies that are embedded in the cornea can leave a residual rust deposit. The tyoe of foreign body and the speed it travels to the eye are important considerations. Testimony from a board-certified eye expert can help determine appropriate options for treatment under these circumstances.
Blunt or sharp trauma to the eye can cause a number of internal eye injuries that include bleeding, lacerations, cataract, inflammation, elevated eye pressure, vitreous detachment, or retinal detachment. An ophthalmologist experienced in workplace eye injuries can provide expert testimony that analyzes these forms of ocular damage.
Often, damage to the eyelid accompanies damage to the eye. Eyelid lacerations can impact muscles that control the position and movement of the eyelid. Injury to the tear duct system can also lead to problems with excessive tearing that require surgical remediation. Evaluation of eyelid issues from work injuries need to be considered when analyzing the spectrum of damage.
In addition to injuries from objects, chemical exposure to the eye accounts for a significant number of work-related injuries. Chemicals with alkaline content are known to be more injurious to the eye than acids. Proper emergency handling of a chemical injury and the use of appropriate medication to help prevent secondary complications is evaluated by an eye expert.
Prioritizing industrial safety is an important factor for preventing eye injuries. But when eye injuries occur it is within the field of an eye expert witness who may be able to identify specific ares of concern in litigation. The testimony of a board-certified ophthalmologist in deposition or in a courtroom is often relied on to provide an erudite analysis.