SAEM Clinical Image Series: Snowball Effects

A 13-year-old boy presented to the emergency department with complaints of a right eye injury. Five hours prior to arrival, he was struck directly in the right eye with a snowball resulting in immediate eye pain, localized swelling, some flashes of light in his vision and blurry vision. Prior to arrival, the patient had been seen at an optometry center where puff pressures of his eyes were obtained and the right eye was noted to have an increased intraocular pressure (IOP) of 46 mmHg compared to a pressure of 13 mmHg on the left. He continued to endorse photophobia and mild right eye pain.

Eye:

  • No bony tenderness or crepitus surrounding the right eye
  • Positive blood fluid level in the anterior chamber
  • EOMI
  • On confrontation of visual fields, the patient was unable to count fingers in all fields on the right but could detect light and movement
  • Red reflex could not be elicited on fundoscopic exam
  • On fluorescein exam, no flow of aqueous humor and no corneal abrasions
  • Tono-Pen IOP measurements were 41mmHg in the right eye, and 27 mmHg in the left eye

Non-contributory

The red flags include a history of vision loss and the presence of ocular hypertension with the hyphema. Ophthalmology was emergently consulted for the intraocular hypertension. By the time of evaluation by the specialist, the patient stated that his vision was less blurry and he did not see any spots in his vision. The photos demonstrate progression of the traumatic hyphema from grade IV, to grade II, and then grade I.

 

The emergent conditions that must be addressed include open globe and intraocular hypertension. Ophthalmology IOP measurements were 14 mmHg bilaterally. Visual acuities were 20/40 on the right and 20/20 on the left. A dilated eye exam with the slit lamp could not fully assess the posterior eye structures due to haziness. A metal eye shield was applied to the patient’s right eye, and he was discharged with cyclopentolate and prednisolone acetate eye drops, and an ophthalmology follow-up appointment within 24 hours. The patient was instructed to be on bed rest with the head of the bed elevated and to avoid straining.

 

 

Take-Home Points

  • In traumatic eye injury, pay attention to eye color changes with grade IV hyphema which can be missed unless you compare it to the uninjured side.
  • Look for features of an open globe which include irregularly shaped pupils, delayed consensual light response, extrusion of vitreous, Seidel’s sign (fluorescein streaming of tears away from the puncture site).
  • Beware of intraocular hypertension (>21 mmHg) with high-grade traumatic hyphema which needs to be emergently addressed to prevent optic nerve atrophy and permanent vision loss.

  • Brandt MT, Haug RH. Traumatic hyphema: a comprehensive review. J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2001 Dec;59(12):1462-70. doi: 10.1053/joms.2001.28284. PMID: 11732035.
  • Gharaibeh A, Savage HI, Scherer RW, Goldberg MF, Lindsley K. Medical interventions for traumatic hyphema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jan 19;(1):CD005431. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005431.pub2. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;12:CD005431. PMID: 21249670; PMCID: PMC3437611.

 

SAEM Clinical Image Series: Eye Pain

necrotizing

A 59-year-old gentleman experiencing homelessness with a history of hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatitis C, alcohol use disorder, and tobacco dependence presented to the emergency department (ED) with severe, worsening right eye pain, blurry vision, swelling, redness, and purulent discharge after scraping his upper face on concrete during a mechanical fall two weeks prior. Of note, his partner presented to the ED at the same time with a necrotic infection of the breast as well as multiple skin lesions reportedly due to insect bites.

Vitals: T 102.4°F; HR 108; BP 121/94

Head: Lice nits visible in his hair

Eye: Unable to open right eye without assistance; eyelids crusted and necrotic with underlying orbicularis oculi muscle visible; EOM full but painful in all fields of gaze; visual acuity 20/60 in each eye; pupils 2 mm, equal and minimally reactive.

White blood cell (WBC) count: 27,600/μl

Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP): Na 121; K 2.8; Cl 83; AST 113; ALT 45

Wound culture: Positive for MRSA, Streptococcus pyogenes, Enterobacter cloacae, and Staphyloccocus epidermis

This patient’s presentation is consistent with periorbital necrotizing fasciitis complicated by severe sepsis.

This patient had type 1 necrotizing fasciitis given the polymicrobial source of infection with both aerobic and anaerobic organisms growing from his wound culture. Type 2 necrotizing fasciitis is attributable to streptococcal and/or staphylococcal infection alone. Group A strep is the most common organism responsible for necrotizing fasciitis, found in about 50% of cases.

Independent risk factors for necrotizing fasciitis include advanced age, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, liver cirrhosis, alcohol use disorder, and trauma. Furthermore, persons who experience homelessness are at risk of skin lesions due to insect bites, burns, and physical trauma which predispose them to secondary bacterial infections because of inadequate hygiene resources.

A systematic review of periorbital necrotizing fasciitis showed that 35% of cases were triggered by trauma, while 14% were caused by other infections such as acute dacryocystitis, sinus infections, and infections of the parotid glands.  Thus, it is likely that the patient’s contact with his partner who had a necrotic soft tissue infection secondary to insect bites, as well as his recent trauma to the eye, predisposed his development of this condition.

Initiation of broad-spectrum intravenous (IV) antibiotics with vancomycin, piperacillin/tazobactam, and clindamycin, as well as IV fluids.

In this case, the patient received the above antibiotics, underwent operative debridement, frequent wound care including dilute hypochlorous acid, local vancomycin administered via intra-orbital catheter, as well as lid reconstruction with glabellar flap. He was ultimately discharged on a two-week course of oral moxifloxacin and linezolid, healing well at his one-month follow-up appointment.

 

Take-Home Points

  • Skin problems are a common reason that persons experiencing homelessness seek medical care, given their risk factors for both primary insults and subsequent superinfection.
  • Common sources of infection for periorbital necrotizing fasciitis include trauma, surgery, and other infections of the upper face.
  • The standard of care for periorbital necrotizing fasciitis consists of IV and local antibiotics, and operative debridement.

  • Amrith S, Hosdurga Pai V, Ling WW. Periorbital necrotizing fasciitis — a review. Acta Ophthalmol. 2013 Nov;91(7):596-603. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.2012.02420.x. Epub 2012 Apr 20. PMID: 22520175.

 

SAEM Clinical Image Series: Traumatic Swollen Eye

A 53-year-old caucasian male with a history of alcohol and amphetamine abuse presents to the Emergency Department via ambulance immediately after sustaining a fist-blow injury to the right eye. The patient denies loss of consciousness and complains of eye pain with the inability to see.

Vitals: T 36.9°C; BP 181/119; HR 110

General: Alert and oriented; anxious; agitated

Ophthalmic:

OD:

  • Visual acuity – no light perception
  • Pupil 4mm, irregular shape, and fixed
  • Extraocular movement – none
  • Proptotic; Conjunctival prolapse; Subconjunctival hemorrhage
  • Anterior chamber hyphema
  • IOP 55 mmHg

OS:

  • Visual acuity – 20/20
  • Pupil 3mm round and reactive
  • Extraocular movement – intact
  • IOP 12 mmHg

Non-contributory

A lateral canthotomy and cantholysis.

This procedure is easily performed at the bedside in the ED and the transected lateral canthal tendon and inferior/superior crus can be repaired during the repair of the presenting injury. Patients report improvements in pain and sometimes vision in as little as 10 minutes after the procedure.

A CT should be ordered after performing a lateral canthotomy and cantholysis to minimize the complications associated with elevated retrobulbar pressure including ischemia and permanent loss of vision. This photograph depicts a patient who presented to the ED suffering from the effects of orbital compartment syndrome (OCS) after being punched in the eye. OCS can develop from as little as 7mL of fluid accumulation in the retro-orbital space and can rapidly lead to permanent blindness if ischemia is present for more than 100 minutes. Symptoms of OCS requiring immediate lateral canthotomy and cantholysis include: proptosis, increased intraocular pressure, Marcus-Gunn pupil, decreased acuity, or restricted ocular movements. Importantly, OCS is a clinical diagnosis, and treatment of this condition should not be delayed for further testing or diagnostic workup. While treatment may not result in the return of vision, there are many case reports of patients regaining full or partial vision up to two hours after the onset of symptoms.

Take-Home Points

  • Don’t delay! Quick action can save your patient’s vision.
  • Signs of OCS requiring immediate bedside surgical intervention include:
    • Proptosis
    • Increased intraocular pressure
    • Marcus-Gunn pupil
    • Decreased visual acuity
    • Restricted ocular movements
  1. Rowh AD, Ufberg JW, Chan TC, Vilke GM, Harrigan RA. Lateral canthotomy and cantholysis: emergency management of orbital compartment syndrome. J Emerg Med. 2015 Mar;48(3):325-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2014.11.002. Epub 2014 Dec 16. PMID: 25524455.
  2. Jaksha AF,Justin GA, Davies BW, Ryan DS, Weichel ED, Colyer MH. Lateral Canthotomy and Cantholysis in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom: 2001-2011. Ophthalmic Plast Reconstr Surg. 2019 Jan/Feb;35(1):62-66. doi: 10.1097/IOP.0000000000001168. PMID: 29979268.

 

 

By |2021-09-08T11:14:28-07:00Sep 20, 2021|Ophthalmology, SAEM Clinical Images|

SAEM Clinical Image Series: Eye Pain After Assault

carotid cavernous fistula

A 33-year-old male presents with intermittent blurry vision and left eye pain for 3 months, and a left-sided orbital headache for 1 day. He reports getting punched in the left side of the head during an altercation a few months ago. The eye pain is worse with ocular movements and is associated with bilateral conjunctival injection and white/green discharge from the left eye.

The patient was seen at another emergency department 3 months prior for the same symptoms. He was then found to have left-sided proptosis, visual acuity 20/60 in the left eye, no fluorescein uptake, and a normal fundoscopic exam. The patient was instructed to follow up with ophthalmology but did not. The patient denies fevers, chills, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

 

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SAEM Clinical Image Series: Eye Injury

eye

An 11-year-old male presented to a pediatric trauma center following a motor vehicle collision (MVC). He was the restrained front-seat passenger when his vehicle was struck head-on, causing frontal airbag deployment. His primary complaint was pain around his right eye with associated blurry vision. He denied diplopia, pain with extraocular movements, flashers, floaters, or curtains in his vision.

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SAEM Clinical Image Series: Atraumatic Proptosis

An 85-year-old female with a past history of hypertension presents with acute right-eye pain, redness, and proptosis/bulging for the past two months that has been worsening over the past two days. She endorses blurry vision that began two days prior. She does not use contacts or glasses. No trauma, headache, or loss of consciousness are reported. She reports a “whooshing” sound in her right ear for two to three months.

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Gaining the Diagnosis of Vitreous Hemorrhage with Ultrasound

A 54 year-old male presents to the emergency department with an eye complaint. The patient works as a cook and while cleaning the grill several hours ago felt something fly into his eye. He did not immediately feel pain, but notes blurred vision and an increasing pressure-like sensation in his left eye. He describes his left-sided blurred vision as a haziness, like cobwebs over his eye. He has been able to open his eye and keep it open without difficulty.

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By |2020-01-29T15:55:48-08:00Jan 31, 2020|Ophthalmology, Ultrasound|
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