Purpose: To review the epidemiology of serious ocular trauma presenting to Cairns Base Hospital, from the far north Queensland health districts.
Methods: A retrospective study of cases from January 1995 to November 2002 inclusive. Cases were analysed with respect to demographics, cause and nature of injury, method of transport and time to and type of ophthalmic treatment, and visual outcomes.
Results: There were 226 cases identified, including 71 open-globe and 155 closed-globe injuries. The annual rate of injury was 3.7 per 100 000 for open-globe and 11.8 per 100 000 in total. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population from the far north Queensland districts showed a disproportionate incidence, with 38% of the total number of injuries, despite representing only 12.3% of the population. Assault in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population resulted in 69.6% of injuries in men and 75.8% of injuries in women. Of all assaults 76.2% were alcohol-related. The majority (71.5%) of injuries in the Caucasian population were due to accidental blunt and sharp trauma. In total, 77.4% of injuries occurred in men, with an average age of 31 years. Of all open and closed injuries in the study, a final visual acuity of 6/12 or better was achieved in 47.8% of eyes and a final visual acuity of 6/60 or less occurred in 17.7% of patients, 20.8% patients were lost to follow up. In total, 14.1% of open injuries required enucleation/evisceration.
Conclusions: The incidence of ocular trauma in far north Queensland is equal to other Australian populations. However, there is a disproportionately high incidence in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Alcohol-related assault is a significant cause of visual loss in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Closed-globe injuries are more common than open globe; however, the latter have poorer visual prognosis. Initial visual acuity of all injuries correlated with final visual acuity.