Common Eye Injuries and How to Treat Them

November 03, 2017

No matter how careful you are, sometimes accidents happen. While wearing safety glasses or goggles can help to prevent some eye injuries, accidents still happen. Below are three common eye injuries and how to treat them.

Blunt Eye Trauma

The area around the eye may swell when  struck by an object moving at a high speed leading to a “black eye”. This commonly occurs with baseballs, but can result from other objects as well. The best treatment for a swollen eye is to apply an ice pack to reduce the swelling. As the swelling spreads, the color of the skin may change. First, it will be red, then will gradually darken to dark blue or violet. Once it has darkened, black eyes normally take between one and two weeks to heal. Since bleeding inside the eye or other problems can occur it is always best to see a doctor especially if any of the following occur:

  • Bleeding from the nose or ears
  • Blood on the surface of the eye or an inability to move the eye
  • Loss of vision
  • Two black eyes, potentially indicating a fractured skull
  • Loss of consciousness at the time of an accident or after
  • Seizures or vomiting
  • Light sensitivity following trauma

Corneal Abrasions

A scratched cornea often causes significant discomfort, a red eye and hypersensitivity to light. Corneal abrasions result from a disruption or loss of cells in the top layer of the cornea, called the corneal epithelium. There are countless ways to get a corneal abrasion. While most are caused by minor trauma or foreign body, some corneal abrasions occur spontaneously and referred to as “erosions”. Sand, dust and other small debris can cause an abrasion if rubbed into the eye.

If you get a particle in your eye, do not rub it. Instead, try to flush it out with water or contact solution. If irritation occurs after flushing the eye, seek medical attention. The trapped particle can cause damage quickly if not removed.

As a precaution, most corneal abrasions are treated with antibiotic eyedrops to prevent infection. A bandage contact lens is sometimes used to promote healing. Some abrasions may require an antibiotic ointment that stays on the eye longer and something to relieve pain and light sensitivity. Large, deep corneal abrasions take longer to heal and can cause a permanent scar that might affect vision.

Chemical Burns

Getting splashed in the eye by something other than water can be concerning. Some substances may burn or sting initially but are relatively harmless in the long run. However, some can cause serious injury. As a general rule, acids can cause considerable irritation and damage and should be washed out immediately.  Substances that are basic (alkali) are even more serious. Some examples of alkali substances are oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and even chalk dust.

While most chemical exposures and burns are caused by splashes, they can also be caused by rubbing your eyes and transferring a chemical from your hands. If you get a substance or chemical in your eye, put your head under a stream of barely warm tap water for about 15 minutes, letting it run into your eye and down your face. After flushing, contact an emergency room or urgent care center and let them know exactly what got into your eye, and how you have treated it. They can advise on how to treat from there. All chemical injuries should be evaluated promptly by an ophthalmologist.

Follow the tips in this article to keep your eyes safe in your home, and if you experience any kind of eye injury, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.

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