Bungee Cords Can Cause Severe Eye Damage, Doctor Warns

April 22, 1998

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Bungee cords, elastic devices used for securing equipment, can cause serious damage to the eye that may result in future vision problems if they are not used carefully.

Four patients seen by eye surgeons at Ohio State University for bungee cord-related eye injuries were at higher risk for developing glaucoma, according to Louis Chorich, clinical assistant professor in ophthalmology at Ohio State.

“All four patients had some degree of tearing in the front part of the eye, which puts them at higher risk for the rest of their lives of developing glaucoma,” Chorich said.

He co-authored a paper, published in a recent American Journal of Ophthalmology, that looked at four cases of eye injury from bungee cord use. Bungee cords are made of an elastic material with metal hooks at each end that can be locked or fastened to another structure. Patients were either securing equipment with a cord or removing a cord when the cord snapped and hit one of their eyes.

While injuries included internal bleeding in the eye, dislocated lenses, retinal detachments and immediate but temporary loss of sight, each patient had a tear near the part of the eye that drains fluid, predisposing them to glaucoma.

The eye contains and makes aqueous fluid, which it continuously drains through a “sewer system,” Chorich said. This fluid does not drain as well when there are tears in the tissue around the drainage canal. This can cause glaucoma, a disease in which pressure builds up around the eye because fluid cannot be easily drained.

“The greatest concern to these patients is that they have some structural changes in their eye that increase their chances of developing glaucoma at any time for the rest of their lives,” Chorich said. “Glaucoma can require a lifetime of medications and even surgery and can lead to blindness if not controlled.”

Three patients underwent surgery because of the bungee cord injuries. Surgeons removed dislocated lenses in two patients and reattached retinas in two patients. All patients were treated with eyedrops.

While each patient gained perfect or near-perfect vision in the injured eye, Chorich said the severity of injury and the potential for glaucoma should encourage people to use care with bungee cords.

“Bungee cords are great tools for securing things and they’re used quite frequently,” Chorich said. “But I really don’t think people realize how dangerous they can be.”Written by Holly Wagner, (614) 292-8310; Wagner.235@osu.edu

-end-


Ohio State University

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