As the National Research Council stated in 1988 in its overview of the status of trauma research and control, 'injury is probably the most under- recognized major health problem facing the nation. The study of injury presents unparalleled opportunities for reducing morbidity and for realizing savings in both financial and human terms. Because of the importance of sight for an individual's well being and fulfillment of personal potential, eye injury is a major component of this problem. The USEIR has estimated that in this country alone, 500,000 years of eyesight are lost annually because of injury. It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of operating surveillance systems to identify areas for prevention. With increased cooperation between various public and private agencies, large and smaller health care facilities, and individual ophthalmologists nationally and worldwide, surveillance systems such as the USEIR continue to provide useful information about the epidemiologic characteristics of ocular injury to effectively target prevention efforts. These surveillance systems also provide an opportunity for large-scale studies that have public health and clinical importance. Researchers of the USEIR, for instance, recently completed a project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant number R49-CCR 411716-02), developing an Ocular Trauma Score (OTS). The OTS allows the simple calculation of a single digit that characterizes the severity of the injury at a very early stage. It has counseling, management, and prognostic implications, allowing the planning of rehabilitation at a much earlier stage than is currently possible.