Eye injuries can occur in various settings, including at home, workplace or while playing sports. An injury can be avoided by using proper protective gear.
Common forms of eye injuries
- Direct blow to the eye – being struck by a ball or fist
- Foreign bodies – includes small pieces of wood, grit or metal particles
- Abrasions – from tree branches or fingernails
- Chemical burns – exposure to household cleaning products
- Penetrating injuries – from glass or projectiles from tools especially while hammering or using power tools
- Radiation exposure – being exposed to the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or sun lamps
What should I do?
Minimal irritation or injury to the anterior part of the eye does not require medical care and usually settles within 24 hours. If there is discomfort, pain medications such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can be given.
Avoid touching or rubbing the eye, apply pressure or wearing contact lenses until completely healed to avoid further injury. A doctor should be consulted if there are any concerns about the injury or it does not get better within 24 hours.
How to flush the eye
If there are loose particles in the eye or was exposed to chemicals, it should be flushed using an eye wash or clean water for at least 10-15 minutes. For those who use contact lenses, they should be removed before flushing the eye.
- Instruct the individual to be seated and incline his/her head so that the affected eye is at a lower position than the unaffected eye, preferably over a sink and use a cup of water to drizzle water across the eye from the nose bridge.
- In case both eyes are affected, instruct the individual to tilt the head backwards to keep it level and utilize a glass to pour water over both eyes from the nose bridge.
- If a shower is available, position a gentle stream of warm water at the forehead or above the affected eye while it is kept open.
- When working outdoors, use a garden hose to rinse the eye using the lowest flow setting.
All eye injuries caused by chemicals must be checked by a doctor as soon as possible after flushing. Seek medical care if there are foreign bodies in the eye after flushing. Do not try to remove any objects embedded in the eye itself since this can lead to further damage.
Several eye injuries can be prevented if proper safety precautions during work or hobbies are observed such as eye wear or goggles when using power tools.
For those who use contact lenses, carefully follow the instructions to maintain safety and cleanliness.