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Blast Causes Eye Damage, Even Without Shrapnel

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Biomedical Engineers: Paving the way for new prevention, diagnosis and treatment of eye injuries

Posted by: Dana Reeder | Author: Matthew A. Reilly, Ph.D., UTSA/UTHSCSA Joint Biomedical Engineering Program | Category: Of Interest | July 14, 2014

In a basement laboratory at Fort Sam Houston military base, here in San Antonio, the research team has spent the last two years simulating Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast injuries on postmortem pig eyes using a high-powered shock tube. This catalyzed a collaborative project between UTSA, UT Health Science Center, and the US Army Institute of Surgical Research Biomedical Scientists leading to a groundbreaking discovery. Blast related injuries from IEDs have been deemed the signature injury of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The eye is sensitive to the blast wave arising from IEDs. Previous studies in this area have been focused primarily on penetrating injuries. However, this study found that the different frequencies of vibration between adjacent tissues may cause significant injury. Current eye protection is designed to protect against impact injuries but blast mechanisms were not considered.

Future work will leverage these findings to identify trauma-related biomarkers for diagnostic purposes and treatment, as well as incorporating blast protection into next-gen eyewear. This work was funded by the Department of Defense Vision Research Program to determine whether shock waves from explosions could cause significant eye injuries. Read more here

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