Eye injuries can happen at home, at work or when playing sports. Most of these injuries are preventable, but others, such as irritation from dust or dirt in the environment, may be unexpected. Any eye injury carries the risk for permanent damage and should be examined as soon as possible.
Types of Eye Injuries
The most common injuries to the eye include:
• Chemical burns – Acid or alkali substances coming into contact with the eye
• Corneal abrasion – Scratched eye resulting from being poked or rubbing when an irritant is present
• Eyelid lacerations – Cuts on the eyelid
• Foreign bodies – Particles or objects that are stuck to, protruding from or embedded in the eye
• Subconjunctival hemorrhage – bleeding in the white of the eye
• Traumatic iritis – Inflammation of the iris following an injury
Symptoms to Watch For
If you experience trauma or irritation that leads to an injured eye, call your eye doctor and tell him or her if you have one or more of the following symptoms:
• Change in eye movements
• Change in size or shape of pupil
• Foreign objects lodged in the eye
• Loss of vision
• Sensitivity to light
Your eye doctor will likely advise you to make an appointment or, if the injury is serious, visit an urgent care center for immediate attention.
Eye Injury Treatment
Action must be taken immediately following an eye injury to prevent complications. Avoid touching, rubbing or pressing on the affected eye. Flush out chemicals with clean water, and don’t apply any kind of cream or ointment. Instead, cover the injured eye with a sterile bandage until you can see a doctor. If you have a bruised eye that is swelling, apply an ice pack for 15 minutes at a time three to four times throughout the day. Keep your head elevated to minimize further swelling. Symptoms that don’t abate within 24 hours should be evaluated by a doctor.
You can prevent eye injuries by wearing protective googles or glasses when working with dangerous materials, being careful in the kitchen, using caution while cleaning and following proper safety procedures on the job.