How To Handle Common Eye Injuries

Your eyes and the areas around them are very sensitive to temperature, chemicals and foreign objects. Knowing what to do in an emergency can make the difference between losing or saving your sight. Here are some of the likely eye emergencies you could encounter and how to take care of your eye until you can see emergency personnel or an ophthalmologist.

1. Small Foreign Objects in Your Eye

A speck of dust or an eyelash can feel like a boulder in your eye. The goal is to remove the object without scratching the surface of the eyeball.

  • Blink rapidly to see if it washes away the object.
  • Try running cool water over your open eye to flush out the object.
  • Pull your lower eyelid down to see if you can spot the object.
  • Press a cotton swab on your upper eyelid and pull the eyelid up over it to look for the object.
  • If the object continues to irritate your eye, contact your eye doctor for help.

2. Large Foreign Objects in Your Eye

If you have a piece of glass or metal enter your eye from an accident, this is a medical emergency. Your eyesight may not be permanently damaged if you get help quickly.

  • Do not try to remove the object.
  • Cover your eye with a piece of cloth so you won't touch the object or your eye.
  • Get to an emergency room quickly.

3. Cuts or Scratches to Your Eye

The glass or metal object may not have stuck in your eye, but it may have scratched or cut your eyelid or eyeball. This is also an emergency and you need to get help right away.

  • Do not rub your eyelid or eyeball.
  • Hold a cool, damp cloth to your eye, but do not press on it.
  • Get to an emergency room quickly.

4. Blows to the Eye

If you get hit in the eye, you could develop a black eye which is from bleeding under the skin around the eye. A black eye itself is not dangerous, and will go away on its own. Other injuries from the blow can be more serious and you should get to an emergency room if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • broken skin around the eye
  • pain when pressing on the bone around the eye
  • swelling around the eye
  • the eyeball doesn't move like the unaffected one

These can be signs of a skull fracture and needs to be seen by your eye doctor.

5. Chemical Splashes in the Eye

Many chemicals in your home are dangerous to your eyes. This includes cleaning solutions, pesticides, paint remover, fingernail polish remover and gasoline. Immediately after splashing the substance into your eye, flush it out and get to an emergency room.

  • Turn your head to the side and hold your eye under a faucet.
  • You can also stand in your shower with your face in the water.
  • Allow cool water to flush your eye for several minutes.
  • Flush your eye before contacting the emergency center or have someone contact them for you.
  • Cover your eye with a clean cloth as you travel to the center for an examination.

While most household chemicals will not cause permanent damage, products that contain lye, such as drain cleaners, can. Flush your eye and get to an emergency room as quickly as possible to reduce the chance of serious eye damage from these chemicals.

A quick response to these emergencies can prevent more damage to your eye. Once the immediate danger is addressed, your eye doctor will want to watch the eye to make sure it is healing properly. The best solution is to wear eye protection whenever working on projects or with chemicals around the house that pose a risk to your eyes. Talk to experts like for more information.

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