Eye Injuries Increase In Veterans NPR's Michele Norris talks to retired Col. Robert Mazzoli, a former consultant in ophthalmology to the Army's Surgeon General, about the increase of eye injuries in veterans, and what's being done about it.
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Eye Injuries Increase In Veterans

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Eye Injuries Increase In Veterans

Eye Injuries Increase In Veterans

Eye Injuries Increase In Veterans

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NPR's Michele Norris talks to retired Col. Robert Mazzoli, a former consultant in ophthalmology to the Army's Surgeon General, about the increase of eye injuries in veterans, and what's being done about it.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Joining me is retired Colonel Robert Mazzoli. He's a former consultant in ophthalmology to the Army's Surgeon General. Welcome to the program.

ROBERT MAZZOLI: Thank you for having me.

NORRIS: Why do we se so many eye injuries and why has the number increased compared to previous conflicts?

MAZZOLI: And the very, very small shards and pieces of shrapnel that would hit on the forehead and maybe cause a little cut or maybe a scar, if it hits the eye, that causes visual and ocular devastation.

NORRIS: Are lenses or goggles, or polycarbonate lenses, for instances, any of those things effective?

MAZZOLI: Because of that reluctance to distort vision or reduce vision, then there is a natural reluctance to put anything in front of the eyes. Certainly at the beginning of this conflict, the global war on terrorism, we had that same reluctance and consequently, we also saw a dramatic spike in the percentage of eye injuries. But very quickly, the soldiers saw that the eye armor that we did have is effective.

NORRIS: Colonel Mazzoli, we hear plenty about research in prosthetics and research, and discussion about treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Why is there not more attention paid to eye injuries?

MAZZOLI: There are researchers out there in a variety of locations across the country that are actually getting the optic nerves to regenerate after trauma - that's Earth-shattering. But the level of funding is certainly lagging behind the devastating visual loss.

NORRIS: That's retired Colonel Robert Mazzoli. He's a former consultant in ophthalmology to the Army's Surgeon General. Colonel, thank you very much.

MAZZOLI: Thank you very much.

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