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Timo M T Tervo, Pekka Sulander, Tapio Koisaari; Spectacle wear, airbag deployment and eye trauma. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(13):5473.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To study the risk and compliance of spectacle wear related to airbag deployment in fatal car and van accidents (Fas).
In Finland all fatal traffic accidents are investigated by a multiprofessional team and the victims subjected to a forensic autopsy. Medical and physical factors are analysed. The national road accident research registry on FAs during the years 2009-12 (4 years) contained 734 FAs (899 drivers). Cases with both seat belts in use and the driver’s airbag present (N= 400) were examined. Spectacle use (SU) was assessed and compared with driver’s license registry (DLR) to check whether the correction was in use. Finally, data on eye injuries were collected in the spectacle group.
Deadly head injuries were found in about 13% whether or not the bags deployed. The bag deployed in 267/400 cases, in 126 cases it did not and in 7 cases there was no data. Of the 267 drivers 132 died, 98 got injured and 37 received no injuries. Most of the drivers with a seat belt - and airbag + (175) died and were not analyzed further. Of the buckled-up drivers 154 did not use spectacles, 54 did, 4 used contact lenses. No data was obtained from 55 drivers. Of the drivers using glasses or contact lenses 42 had to use them (DLR), 15 used them voluntarily. In one case the information was not available. Eye injuries: 137 drivers without spectacles and 47 spectacle users showed no injuries, three had mild injuries; scratches or bruises in lids or eye brows. No penetrating injuries were found. Two of the injured did not need to use spectacles (DLR). In eighty cases the injury data was not available. All the drivers (N=57), who had to use spectacles had them on. No data was recovered from 13 drivers. In one case the glasses were obligatory only while driving heavy vehicles.
In FAs airbags do not cause severe eye injuries provided that seat belts are used. The observed injuries were mild. SU does not seem be a remarkable additional risk for an eye injury. There was a high compliance in SU (actual use v.s. DLR registry). Airbags may protect the eye from more severe penetrating injuries caused by glass before the airbag era. The failure to use seat belts may eliminate much of the protective potential of airbags and allow forceful contacts with vehicle components or ejection from the car. Analysis of the physical metrics of the crash is essential for evaluation of the airbag safety.
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