In 2019 there were 6,756,000 vehicle crashes in the United States, causing 36,096 fatalities and 2,740,000 injured people. The statistics from 2020 are even direr: 4.8 million people were seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents, despite fewer miles driven as a result of the pandemic. You may be aware of the possibilities of broken bones, concussions, and internal organ trauma in car accidents, but many people aren’t aware of how often serious eye injuries occur. In fact, according to The International Journal of Surgery Case Reports motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) are the second-leading cause of ocular injuries (falling is the leading cause).
According to WebMD, a serious eye injury is anything that involves:
- A change in vision
- Severe pain
- A torn or cut eyelid
- An object (like metal or glass) lodged in the eye
Our eyes are sensitive organs, easily damaged by blunt force, projectiles, chemicals, and a host of other dangers; they are especially vulnerable to injuries caused by vehicle crashes, which by their very nature happen within seconds and without warning. Since this type of injury can often result in complete loss of vision or even the loss of an eye, accident victims need to receive appropriate compensation. Eye injuries can affect one’s quality of life permanently.
How are eyes injured in vehicle crashes?
- Eyes and the orbital bones around the eyes are in danger of being hit by (or slamming into) something heavy and unyielding such as a large projectile or the side of the vehicle. This is called blunt trauma.
- Often in an accident, broken glass can fly through the air and lodge into eyes– either glass from a front or side window, from side mirrors, or even from the person’s own spectacles.
- Airbags can damage eyes when they inflate with huge force. This is not to say that airbags are unwise. In fact, in frontal crashes, front airbags reduce driver fatalities by 29% and in front seat passengers by 32%, according to the NHTSA. In 2017 alone, 2,790 lives were saved as a result of front airbags. However, anything that deploys at speeds of 200 miles per hour and relies on a chemical reaction to inflate can pose a risk.
- When people are ejected from vehicles in crashes, it can cause serious injuries or fatalities.
- Not wearing a seatbelt can increase the risk of ejection or of being propelled into the sides of the vehicle.
Typical ocular injuries caused in vehicle crashes:
According to the NIH, the most common ocular injuries caused by MVAs were:
- Injuries to the ocular adnexa. The adnexa is everything around the eye, such as:
- Orbits (bony cavity in which the eyeball sits)
- Extraocular muscles (these are the muscles that control the eyelids and also move the eyeball left and right, up and down)
- Lacrimal system (this produces tears)
- Optic nerves (these carry messages from the retina to the brain)
- Orbital fractures
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage (broken blood vessels in the eye)
- Foreign body in the eye
- Open wound of eyeball
Other injuries to the eyes that can be caused by car accidents are:
- Corneal abrasions: These are scratches to the cornea (clear part in the front of the eye). They may cause pain and light sensitivity but can be treated.
- Lacerations, like cuts to the eyelid.
- Detached retinas: This condition can cause light flashes, blurred vision, and impaired side vision. If left untreated, a detached retina (one pulled away from blood vessels that provide oxygen) can cause permanent blindness.
- Hyphemia: this is a painful condition when blood pools between the cornea and the iris as a result of blunt trauma. The build-up in pressure can also lead to permanent vision problems if left untreated.
It is important to note that even if the eyes themselves are not physically injured in an accident, many traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s) can cause impaired vision or complete loss of vision. This makes sense when you realize that 40-50% of the brain is involved in vision.
What to do if your vision is affected after an accident:
- Never adopt a “wait and see” approach when it comes to your eyes. In some cases, the time between an injury and receiving treatment can literally mean the difference between full vision, impaired vision, and loss of vision.
- Seek medical attention after any vehicle accident or trauma even if you don’t see burst blood vessels or experience pain. Many serious eye injuries are not immediately apparent.
- Consult an experienced vision loss attorney, like the ones at Crossen Law Firm, to help obtain compensation from negligent parties, such as the at fault driver or a faulty airbag manufacturer. Establishing negligence will be key to your case.
Vision impairment statistics
- According to the CDC, approximately “1.02 million people were blind in 2015, and approximately 3.22 million people in the United States had vision impairment (VI).”
- The CDC also reports that “vision loss causes a substantial social and economic toll for millions of people including significant suffering, disability, loss of productivity, and diminished quality of life.”
- This has a huge economic impact (more than $145 billion) to the United States in general, but also to those individuals dealing with vision impairment and vision loss.
- The loss of vision can affect an individual’s ability to work and can detract from an enjoyment of life. In many cases, the necessity for depending on others causes depression and mental health issues.
- The NIH cites data indicating that “rates of depression and anxiety are elevated among people with visual impairments.”
- Eye injury is a leading cause of monocular blindness, according to the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). Monocular vision is when one eye is blind, but it is also a condition that happens when one eye is unable to coordinate with the other eye to register images. It can affect depth perception.
Serious eye injuries and loss of sight can change your life permanently. When you are injured in a serious accident, your main focus needs to be on recovery. Let Crossen Law Firm handle the fight for compensation. With over 20 years of experience and millions of dollars awarded in compensation to our clients, our Indianapolis personal injury lawyer understands how to best help you obtain a favorable outcome for your eye injury. Get started on your case today by scheduling a free consultation.