Egg Eye Injuries Send Docs Scrambling

Eye Doctors Urge Crackdown on Egg Throwing

From the WebMD Archives

Sept. 20, 2006 -- Attention ghouls, goblins, and ghosts: Don't even think about hurling eggs at people on Halloween.

If an airborne egg smacks someone in the face, it may cause serious eye damage.

Who would do such a thing? Apparently, it happens fairly often in Liverpool, England, especially around Halloween, and local eye doctors want it to stop.

Doctors from St. Paul's Eye Unit at Royal Liverpool University Hospital write about the problem in Emergency Medicine.

"Obviously, you cannot educate people against throwing objects at each other; you rely on their common sense," write the doctors, who include Jon Durnian, SpR Ophthalmology.

Eggs are about the size of a squash ball but are heavier, and, when thrown as missiles, can easily strike the eye and cause "severe blunt damage," the doctors write.

Major Eye Injuries

Durnian's team tracked all eye injuries resulting from thrown eggs treated at St. Paul's Eye Unit from November 2004 through December 2005.

During that time, the eye clinic treated 13 of those eye injuries. October was the most common month for those injuries (five in October, two each in April, May, and June, and one each in July and November).

Patients were nearly 28 years old, on average. All but one were men.

Eight of the eye injuries were considered "major," the doctors write.

For instance, they write of a 27-year-old man hit by an egg while he was a passenger in a moving car. He ended up with poor vision and a lifelong risk of developing glaucomaglaucoma.

Another man had scrapes on his cornea, the eye's clear, outer layer. His vision improved, but he's still more likely to get glaucoma and needs yearly eye exams.

Other injuries included tears in the retina, found at the back of the eye, and damage to the macula, which is part of the retina.

The bottom line: Leave the eggs at home.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on September 20, 2006

Sources

SOURCES: Stewart, R. Emergency Medicine, Sept. 21, 2006; vol 23: pp 756-758. WebMD Medical Reference in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: "Cornea and the Eyes: Conditions, Symptoms, and Treatment." WebMD Medical Reference: "Understanding Vision Problems -- the Basics." WebMD Medical Reference: "Understanding Macular Degeneration."
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