Purpose: To report ocular and facial injuries caused by the use of electric immersion heaters in an inmate population. Design: Prospective observational case series. Methods: Data were recorded over a six-month period on age, gender, mechanism of injury, examination, and treatment of Dallas County inmates who experienced ophthalmic injuries from immersion heaters and were referred to a tertiary-care center. Results: Eight male inmates were treated for thermal ocular injuries, which occurred within jail cells as a result of cooking explosions from electric immersion heaters, known by inmates as "stingers." All patients had thermal eyelid burns, either first- or second-degree facial burns, and corneal abrasions with corneal edema. Corneal metallic foreign bodies were removed in one patient, and three patients underwent debridement for corneal sloughing. Conclusions: Immersion heater-related accidents may cause thermal injuries within the inmate population. Physicians evaluating incarcerated patients with ocular trauma should be aware of immersion heaters as a common cause.
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