The eye examination in the evaluation of child abuse

Levin, A. V.; Christian, C. W.

Pediatrics. 2010 Jul 28; 126(2):376-80


Retinal hemorrhage is an important indicator of possible abusive head trauma, but it is also found in a number of other conditions. Distinguishing the type, number, and pattern of retinal hemorrhages may be helpful in establishing a differential diagnosis. Identification of ocular abnormalities requires a full retinal examination by an ophthalmologist using indirect ophthalmoscopy through a pupil that has been pharmacologically dilated. At autopsy, removal of the eyes and orbital tissues may also reveal abnormalities not discovered before death. In previously well young children who experience unexpected apparent life-threatening events with no obvious cause, children with head trauma that results in significant intracranial hemorrhage and brain injury, victims of abusive head trauma, and children with unexplained death, premortem clinical eye examination and postmortem examination of the eyes and orbits may be helpful in detecting abnormalities that can help establish the underlying etiology.

Read More on PubMed