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J AAPOS. 2003 Dec;7(6):380-3.

Pediatric airbag-associated ocular trauma and endothelial cell loss.

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Cincinnati Children's Medical Center, OH, USA.



Airbag-associated ocular trauma among the adult population has been widely reported, but reports of these injuries in children are sparse. Laboratory experiments suggest that airbag-associated ocular trauma may cause endothelial cell loss, but reports of in vivo human endothelial cell counts are anecdotal.


A retrospective chart review was performed of all patients with airbag-associated ocular trauma at a pediatric hospital from 1995 to 2001. From 2001 to 2002, endothelial cell counts were obtained from 9 eyes of airbag-associated ocular trauma subjects and 22 eyes of control subjects.


Sixteen patients were identified; all had periocular abrasions, edema, and/or ecchymosis. Other ocular injuries included corneal abrasions (n = 9 or 56%), corneal edema (n = 8 or 50%), hyphema (n = 7 or 44%), lens opacities (n = 5 or 31%), and macular scars (n = 2 or 12%). Three eyes of three patients required intraocular surgery. Unilateral visual loss (hand-motions, 20/100) occurred in two patients. A decrease in mean endothelial cell count of 547 cell/mm2 (P =.01) was found in the airbag-associated ocular trauma group eyes when compared with control group eyes.


The present study includes the largest reported case series of pediatric airbag-associated ocular trauma. Airbag-associated ocular trauma may necessitate intraocular surgery, may result in permanent visual loss, and may cause endothelial cell loss in pediatric patients.

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