Airbags might save lives, but they can come with their own set of injuries as well, some of which are more unusual than others
A 17-year-old Michigan girl was in a car accident where the airbags deployed. Upon being admitted to the emergency room she complained of blurry vision and feeling like something was in her eye. She had no other injuries.
According to the case report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors reviewed her eyesight and found she was 20/20 in the right eye and 20/25 in the left. A closer look at her peepers, which involved temporarily staining her cornea with a dye and viewing her eyes through a blue filter, revealed the problem.
An imprint of the mesh pattern from the airbag was on both of her eyes and her left eye also suffered a corneal abrasion.
Image source: New England Journal of Medicine
"When we looked at her under a magnified view, we could see that there was this very unusual imprint on the surface of the cornea … a rather dramatic-looking picture of the imprint of the nylon mesh pattern of the airbag cover," Dr. Jonathan Trobe, an ophthalmologist at the University of Michigan, told Live Science. "It's quite interesting to see that the airbag deployed so quickly that she didn't have time to close her eyes."
Dr. Jules Winokur, an ophthalmologist in New York City, who was not involve in this case study, told Live Science these incidents with airbags aren't rare.
"Actually, this case report is a really mild case of the damage that airbags can do," Winokur said.
After treatment with an antibiotic, the abrasion on the Michigan teen's eye cleared and she was back to 20/20 in both eyes within two weeks.
Recently, General Motors recalled about 33,000 Chevrolet Cruze cars for potentially defective airbags after a woman went blind in one eye due to a deployment gone wrong, according to Reuters. Other car makers with airbags supplied by Takata — Honda, Mazda and Nissan — also issued recalls due to the possibility they could explode.
In addition to eye injuries, even proper airbag deployment has been associated with injuries to the face, neck, torso and upper limbs.
Front page image via Shutterstock.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.