Friday, May 13, 2011

Rural people 5 times likelier than urbanites to be treated for eye injuries in ERs; let's ask why

"Rural Americans were five times more likely than urban residents to be treated in emergency departments for eye injuries in 2008," reports Medical News Today, citing a report from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Neither source offered a possible reason for this phenomenon, but that's an open invitation for rural reporters to ask emergency-room doctors and nurses about it. When you find out, let us know and we'll tell the world.

UPDATE: AHRQ data show that rural Americans use emergency rooms at a rate 39 percent higher than urban Americans, but that accounts for only part of the disparity in eye treatment.


kewball said...

I make sure I have *at least* one extra set of unbroken safety glasses available at all times.

Here in rural Kansas, wind-borne dirt and debris is a frequent offender, along with the usual mechanical irritations from working on equipment, removing weeds of all sizes and not least, the attentions of a face-licking, too-friendly dog!

Chemicals are a great concern, from the sap of poison hemlock which flourishes here to airborne agricultural spray. Glasses can only go so far at preventing chemical contamination of the eyes.

Bill Harshaw said...

I'd agree with Kewball as to reasons why rural residents might have more eye injuries than urban. But there's also the question: what's the ratio of ER visits rural/urban for things like broken bones, accidental poisoning, etc. Part of the discrepancy could be simply that rural residents have to use the ER for medical care more than urban residents.

Al Cross said...

That's a good point, Bill. I checked the AHRQ site and found data published last November that said ERR use is 39 percent higher for rural residents than urban residents. That would account for some of the discrepancy. A greater reason might be the lack of ophthalmologists in rural areas. Thanks for posting.