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Blast injury: Impact to the cornea.

Visual disorders are common even after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or blast exposure. The cost of blast-induced vision loss in civilians, military personnel, and veterans is significant. The visual consequences of blasts associated with TBI are elusive. Active military personnel and veterans report various ocular pathologies including corneal disorders post-combat blasts. The wars and conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, etc. have increased the number of corneal and ocular disorders significantly among military personnel and veterans. Binocular vision, visual fields, and other visual functions could be impaired following blast-mediated TBI. Blast-associated injuries can cause visual disturbances, binocular system problems, and visual loss. About 25% of veterans exposed to blasts report corneal injury. Blast exposure induces corneal edema, corneal opacity, increased corneal thickness, damage of corneal epithelium, corneal abrasions, and stromal and endothelial abnormality including altered endothelial density, immune cell infiltration, corneal neovascularization, Descemet membrane rupture, and increased pain mediators in animal models and the blast-exposed military personnel including veterans. Immune response exacerbates blast-induced ocular injury. TBI is associated with dry eyes and pain in veterans. Subjects exposed to blasts that cause TBI should undergo immediate clinical visual and ocular examinations. Delayed visual care may lead to progressive vision loss, lengthening/impairing rehabilitation and ultimately may lead to permanent vision problems and blindness. Open-field blast exposure could induce corneal injuries and immune responses in the cornea. Further studies are warranted to understand corneal pathophysiology after blast exposure. A review of current advancements in blast-induced corneal injury will help elucidate novel targets for potential therapeutic options. This review discusses the impact of blast exposure-associated corneal disorders.

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