AHRQ News and Numbers: More Rural Americans treated in emergency departments for eye injuries.

Rural Americans were five times more likely than urban residents to be treated in emergency departments for eye injuries in 2008, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The federal agency found that rural Americans made 646 visits to hospital emergency departments per 100,000 people in 2008, compared to 120 visits per 100,000 people by those in urban areas. People in the Northeast were the most frequently seen in emergency departments for eye injury (256 visits per 100,000 people) and those in the West the least (156 visits per 100,000 people). The Midwest and South fell in between 242 visits and 200 visits per 100,000 people, respectively.

AHRQ also found that for patients treated in the emergency department and released in 2008 (97 percent of all patients treated for eye injuries):

-- The three most common types of the roughly 637,000 eye injuries were cornea scratches (50 percent), followed by cuts to the eyelid or around the eye (9 percent), and bruises around the eye (7 percent).

-- Of these injuries, 32 percent were caused by being hit in the eye by something or someone, falling down (9 percent), getting a caustic substance in the eye (4 percent), insect bites or other reasons (3 percent), or being in a motor vehicle accident (nearly 3 percent).

For the 3 percent of patients admitted to the hospital for eye injuries in 2008:

-- The most common types of injuries were wounds to the tear glands (17 percent), bruised eye sockets (15 percent), and bruised eyelids (11 percent).

-- Falls were the major cause of these injuries (36 percent), followed by motor vehicle accidents (19 percent), being hit by something or somebody (12 percent), other reasons including insect bites (3 percent), and getting burned by a caustic substance (1 percent).

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)