What to do in case of Eye Injury?

Posted on January 31, 2018

Eye injuries can sometimes cause serious damage, especially if not managed in time. Eye injuries can be mechanical or chemical. While the former are always expected to be grave, the latter can have grave vision threatening consequences. It is prudent to see an eye doctor even for seemingly trivial eye injuries, regardless of whether you perceive a decrease in vision or not. An eye injury can evoke a panic reaction, but remember, that never helps. It is best to keep calm, and try and reach a medical facility at the earliest. Till such time that you reach your eye doctor, this is what you should do.

When is an eye injury not trivial?

These are signs for seeking immediate medical help.

  • The injured person is in pain or has trouble with his or her vision
  • Any cut or laceration of the eyelid.
  • When the mobility of the eye is affected, that is, one eye does not move as well as the other, or is not synchronous.
  • One eye bulges out of the eye socket, as compared to the other.
  • If the pupil size or shape of one eye is different from that of the other.
  • Blood in front of the iris (the brown black or blue green part of the eye), called hyphema
  • Any iris protruding out of the eye.
  • Something in the eye or under the eyelid or on the cornea that cannot be removed by flushing with water
  • Double vision or blurred vision
  • Flashes of lights, spots or floaters, coloured halos, or shadows

Something in the Eye (Foreign body)

  • Do not rub the eye.
  • Pull down the upper lid and blink repeatedly.
  • Remove your contact lenses immediately.
  • Do not use tweezers or even cotton swab/buds on the black part of the eye (Cornea)
  • You may try and use a sterile cotton swab/ bud gently remove the speck from to white of the eye or lid, but it is best to leave this job to the medical experts.
  • Wash the eye with drinking water.
  • See a doctor if the speck does not wash out.

Cuts/ stabs/jabs/ lacerations in the eye/ iris protruding

  • Do not rub the eye
  • Do not wash the eye.
  • Do not try to remove any foreign body stuck in the eye.
  • Loosely cover the eye with a sterile bandage, or a clean handkerchief. Alternatively, a safer thing to do is to gently place a shield over the eye, which can be made of the bottom of a paper cup, and does not touch the eye at all.
  • Avoid using aspirin, ibuprofen or other painkillers as these drugs thin the blood and may increase bleeding.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

Blunt trauma

  • Blunt trauma can cause innocuous injury like subconjunctival hemorhage, to black eye, and extensive injuries like globe rupture, fracture of bones of the orbit, lens injury and retinal swelling and detachment.
  • In case of an obvious black eye, a gentle cold compress may help, but it is best to seek medical advice for anything other than a trivial blunt injury.
  • Do not apply pressure on the eye.
  • Do not apply any medication or ointment till told to do so by the eye doctor. Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen or other painkillers as these drugs thin the blood and may increase bleeding.

Chemical Exposure

  • Don’t rub your eyes.
  • Remove your contact lenses immediately.
  • Immediately wash the eye with lots of water, for at least ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Use clean drinking water in your cupped palms, and lower your face into them. Open your eyes gently and then blink rapidly. This may dislodge any particulate matter
  • After this, tilt your face under a tap or shower, and gently stream water into the eyes to meticulously remove any chemicals whatsoever.
  • You can also irrigate your eyes with lubricating eye drops, and rarely, antibiotic drops, if available.
  • Do not bandage the eye.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

How to prevent eye injuries?

Many eye injuries can be prevented if you take appropriate safety precautions during work and sports. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but provides general guidelines for preventing common eye injuries.

  1. Wear eye protection when hammering metal and using power tools, chemicals. Also during sports which involve contact, or racket sports that involve projectiles like balls and shuttle cocks.
  2. Protective eyewear can range from glasses, goggles and face shields to proper helmets with shatterproof visors, depending upon the activity you are involved in.
  3. At the workplace, where industrial tools and chemicals are used, it is the employers’ duty to assess hazards and allocate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the eyes and face to the workers. This PPE is especially designed to prevent or lessen the severity of injuries to workers, in that particular work environment. The sources of hazards in the workplace include heat, radiation, impact, chemicals, dust and particulate matter, and each of these requires a customized solution in the workplace.
  4. You must follow your doctors’ instructions regarding the safe and hygienic use of contact lenses.
  5. Safety while using fire crackers is essential. Universal fire precautions are helpful in avoiding eye injuries as well.
  6. Public awareness of hazards is critical in preventing eye injuries. For example, hurled water balloons during Holi, bow and arrow injuries during Dussehra, and “rockets” during Diwali are responsible for most injuries during the festive season


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