Men are twice as likely to suffer an eye injury as women, and white men in their 20s face the greatest risk, according to a new study.

Researchers found nearly 10 out of every 1,000 men in the U.S. are treated for an eye injury per year compared with almost five out of every 1,000 women.

Overall, nearly 2 million Americans were treated for eye injuries in emergency rooms, outpatient clinics, and private doctors' offices in 2001.

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Eye Injuries Abound

Researchers say it's the first study to include eye injuries treated by private doctors as well as in emergency rooms and outpatient clinics in estimating the number of injuries treated each year in the U.S.

The results, published in the August issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology, suggest that private doctors treat a large number of eye injuries among middle-age adults, and previous studies may have underestimated eye injuries among this age group.

White males in their 20s had the highest rate of eye injuries at more than 20 injuries per 1,000. But researchers also found spikes in eye injuries among whites in their 50s and blacks in their 30s, 40s, and 70s.

The most commonly treated eye injuries were superficial wounds followed by foreign objects, contusions, and open wounds.

More than half of all eye injuries were treated in emergency rooms, nearly 40 percent in doctors' offices, and the rest in inpatient or outpatient facilities.

The authors suggest that private doctors' offices should be considered an important setting for eye injury prevention initiatives.

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By Jennifer Warner, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES: McGwin, G.Archives of Ophthalmology, August 2005; vol 123: pp 170-176. News release, University of Alabama, Birmingham.