PATIENTS in Scotland’s most deprived communities are twice as likely to be admitted to hospital with traumatic eye injuries compared to those from the wealthiest postcodes.
A study of more than a 100 patients also found that a quarter were drunk at the time of injury, with increased intoxication linked to higher rates of assault in public places.
The research published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology compared 104 patients admitted to hospitals across Scotland with ocular trauma between November 2008 and 31 October 2009.
The average age of patients was 32 and 89 – equivalent to more than 85 per cent – were males.
A total of 85 injuries were either caused by blunt trauma – such as being punched in the face – or by an object penetrating the eye or eye socket.
Of the 23 patients injured while drunk, 20 had been assaulted, two were in a road traffic accident and one had suffered a fall. Most of these – 20 – also occurred while the patient was in a public place.
Among the patients who suffered eye injuries while not under the influence of alcohol – where the circumstances were known – most were injured while working with machinery or tools.
Researchers also found a correlation between eye injuries and socioeconomic status, based on assigning each patient a Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation score according to their home postcode.
The authors state: “Serious ocular injury necessitating admission to hospital was found to be significantly associated with socioeconomic deprivation. Patients from the 0 per cent–20 per cent most deprived areas were twice as likely to sustain serious ocular trauma compared with those from the 80 per cent–100 per cent least deprived areas.”
Of the patients injured while drunk, all were male. The paper added: “These patients were more likely to have resident postcodes in more deprived areas and those having higher crime rates. Both the mechanism and place of injury differed significantly with intoxication status, with intoxicated patients having higher rates of assault, and more likely to be injured in public areas.”
The authors called for “targeted interventions are needed to address inequality in eye healthcare in deprived areas”.
Source : HeraldScotland