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Clinical science
Surveillance of severe chemical corneal injuries in the UK
  1. E C A Macdonald1,
  2. P A Cauchi1,
  3. A Azuara-Blanco2,
  4. B Foot3
  1. 1
    Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology, Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2
    Department of Ophthalmology, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen, UK
  3. 3
    The British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit (BOSU), The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr E C A Macdonald, Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology, Gartnavel General Hospital, Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 0YN, UK; b_mckillop{at}


Aim: To estimate the incidence of severe chemical corneal injuries in the UK and describe presenting clinical features and initial management.

Methods: All patients with severe chemical corneal injury in the UK from December 2005 to November 2006 inclusive were prospectively identified using the British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit. Reporting ophthalmologists provided information regarding presentation and follow-up.

Results: Twelve cases were identified, giving a minimum estimated incidence in the UK of severe chemical corneal injury of 0.02 per 100 000. 66.7% of injuries were in males of working age, 50% occurred at work, and alkali was causative in 66.7%. Only one patient was wearing eye protection at the time of injury, 75% received immediate irrigation. Six patients required one or more surgical procedures, most commonly amniotic membrane graft. At 6 months’ follow-up, the best-corrected visual acuity was 6/12 or better in five patients, and worse than 6/60 in two.

Conclusion: The incidence of severe chemical corneal injury in the UK is low. The cases that occur can require extended hospital treatment, with substantial ocular morbidity and visual sequelae. Current enforcement of eye protection in the workplace in the UK has probably contributed to a reduced incidence of severe ocular burns.

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  • Funding This work was supported by The Iris Fund for Prevention of Blindness and a grant from the Speed Pollock Memorial Trust.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by UK National Research Ethics Service.

  • All authors, external and internal, had full access to all of the data in the study and can take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.