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Eye Injuries

The eyes can be particularly sensitive to injury from a number of relatively commonplace causes.  While the exact treatment for any specific eye injury largely depends on the source of the injury, a few simple steps may help alleviate some of the more serious complications that may result.

Treatment:
In almost all cases, you should apply a clean bandage or cloth to the injured eye. Use a sterile bandage if at all possible, but avoid using fluffy, cotton dressings, as they may come apart and stick to the eye.

  • For Bleeding: Apply light pressure to any cut that is near the eye in order to stop the bleeding.  Under no circumstances should you apply any pressure directly to the eyeball itself.  Note that even a small cut on the inner eyelid may damage tear ducts and should be evaluated by a health care professional.
  • For Chemical Exposure: Avoid rubbing the affected area, as this may cause further irritation or damage.  Instead, immediately wash out the eye using the nearest source of fresh water and contact Poison Control.  Having information about the specific chemical involved (which is usually printed on the packaging) will help emergency personnel treat the injury more effectively.  Do not bandage the eye.
  • For a Blow to the Eye: Apply a cold compress to the area around the eye, but do not put direct pressure on the eyeball itself.  If there is bruising, bleeding, or a change in vision, or if it hurts when the eye moves, see a doctor right away.
  • For a Foreign Particle in Eye: Do not rub the eye or attempt to remove the object manually, as this could cause the foreign object to lodge deeper into the eye.  If the foreign material is small, carefully pull the upper eyelid down and blink repeatedly to generate extra tears and wash the material away naturally.  If the particle is still there, rinse the eye as you would for a chemical exposure.  However, if rinsing doesn’t help, close the eye, bandage it lightly, and see a doctor.

Prevention:

  • Among all eye injuries reported in the Eye Injury Snapshot (conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma) more than 78 percent of people were not wearing eyewear at the time of injury.
  • Nearly half (44.7 percent) of all eye injuries reported occurred in the home, and more than 40 percent of eye injuries reported were caused by projects and activities such as home repairs, yard work, cleaning and cooking.
  • More than 40 percent of eye injuries every year are related to sports or recreational activities.
  • Eyes can also be damaged by sun exposure, not just chemicals, dust or objects, so eye protection that screens out both UVA and UVB wavelengths is recommended.

Call 911 if:
There is a significant piece of foreign material, such as a piece of glass or metal, sticking out of the eye or vision is decreased.

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