A review of the injury patterns, treatment strategies, and responding physicians’ experience during the Port of Beirut blast may help guide future ophthalmic disaster response plans.
To present the ophthalmic injuries and difficulties encountered as a result of the Port of Beirut blast on August 4, 2020.
A retrospective medical record review of all patients who presented to the emergency department and 13 ophthalmology outpatient clinics at the American University of Beirut Medical Center for treatment of ophthalmic injuries sustained from the explosion in Port of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon, from August 4 to the end of November 2020. Patients were identified from emergency records, outpatient records, and operative reports.
Types of ocular injuries, final best-corrected visual acuity, and need for surgical intervention were evaluated. Visual acuity was measured with correction based on noncycloplegic refraction using the Snellen medical record.
Ocular or ocular adnexal injuries sustained from the Port of Beirut explosion.
A total of 39 blast survivors with ocular injuries were included in this study. Twenty-two patients presented with ocular injuries on the day of the blast, and 17 patients presented within the following 3 months to the ophthalmology clinics for a total of 48 eyes of 39 patients were treated secondary to the blast. Thirty-five patients (89.6%) were adults, and 24 (61.5%) were female. A total of 21 patients (53.8%) required surgical intervention, more than half of which were urgently requested on the same day of presentation (14 [35.9%]). Most eye injuries were caused by debris and shrapnel from shattered glass leading to surface injury (26 [54.2%]), eyelid lacerations (20 [41.6%]), orbital fractures (14 [29.2%]), brow lacerations (10 [20.8%]), hyphema (9 [18.8%]), open globe injuries (10 [20.8%]), and other global injuries. Only 7 injured eyes (14.5%) had a final best-corrected visual acuity of less than 20/200, including all 4 open globe injuries with primary no light perception (8.3%) requiring enucleation or evisceration.
In the aftermath of the Port of Beirut explosion, a review of the ophthalmic injuries showed a predominance of shrapnel-based injuries, many of which had a delayed presentation owing to the strain placed on health care services. Reverting to basic approaches was necessary in the context of a malfunctioning electronic medical record system.