To describe the occurrence of unilateral retinal hemorrhages in four cases of documented child abuse, including a case in which retinal hemorrhages were an incidental finding on routine examination.
Three children, 5 to 17 months of age, with suspected child abuse had fundus examinations with a dilated pupil as part of their evaluation. An additional child, 6 months of age, received fundus examination with a dilated pupil as part of follow-up for regressed retinopathy of prematurity. Each of the four children had extensive retinal or preretinal hemorrhages in one eye only. Three of the four had ecchymoses on the ipsilateral face or neck. Two had evidence of bone fractures on skeletal surveys. All four had neuroimaging that documented cerebral hemorrhage or infarct. In all four cases an adult caretaker was found responsible for shaking, choking, or squeezing the child. One child died. Two had resolution of retinal hemorrhage, whereas one required vitrectomy. All three had at least partial recovery of vision in the affected eye after amblyopia treatment.
In cases of documented child abuse, unilateral retinal or preretinal hemorrhages may be present. Ophthalmologists should recognize that unilateral retinal or preretinal hemorrhages may be associated with child abuse.
Unilateral retinal hemorrhages in documented cases of child abuse.