Injuries to the eye are the most common preventable cause of blindness. Always err on the side of caution and see a doctor is there is concern over an injury.
What to Do in the event of Routine Irritations (Dirt, sand, etc.)
- Do not rub, press, or touch the eye.
- Wash hands thoroughly before examining or flushing the eye.
- Flush the eye for up to 15 minutes. Tilt head over a basin or sink with the affected eye down. Gently pull on the lower eyelid while open the eye as wide as possible. Pour a steady stream of lukewarm water (do not heat the water) from a pitcher, or use sterile saline solution, across the eye. Check every 5 minutes to see if the foreign body has been dislodged.
- If the particle is not dislodged by flushing, or if irritation continues, seek medical help. A particle can scratch the cornea and cause infection or other complications.
What to Do For Embedded Foreign Objects
- Call for emergency medical help immediately.
- Cover both eyes. The unaffected eye must be covered to prevent the affected eye from moving. If the object is small use eye patches or sterile bandages for both eyes. If the object is protruding, cover the injured eye with a small paper cup taped in place, and use a bandage over the other eye. Keep all pressure off the globe of the eye.
- Try to stay as calm as possible until help arrives.
Many household chemicals can damage the eyes. If you are assisting someone else who has come in contact with a chemical and you know what it is, look on the container for an emergency phone number and call for instructions. You can also call your local poison control center for specific instructions.
What to Do in the Event of Chemical Exposure
- Call for emergency medical help.
- Flush the eye (see above) immediately. If both eyes are affected, use the shower.
- Cover both eyes with sterile bandages and keep them covered until help arrives.
Black Eye, Blunt Injury or Contusion
A black eye is usually a minor injury resulting from broken blood vessels at a point of impact, but if any of the following symptoms occur, call you doctor immediately because they may indicate a serious eye injury or head trauma:
- Increased redness over time
- Drainage from the eye
- Persistent eye pain
- Any change in vision
- Any visible abnormality of the eyeball
- Visible bleeding on the white part (sclera) of the eye, especially near the cornea
What to Do in the Event of Black Eye, Blunt Object or Contusion
Apply cold compresses immediately after injury. 5 to 10 minutes on, 10 to 15 minutes off. Continue the use of cold compresses for 24-48 hours. A cold compress can be ice wrapped in a towel or cloth (do not apply ice directly to the fragile skin around the eye) or anything chilled will do (a cold soda) if ice is unavailable.
- After 48 hours, switch to warm compresses applied intermittently. This will help the body reabsorb the blood from the broken blood vessels and may reduce discoloration.
- For pain, use acetaminophen. Do not use aspirin or ibuprofen, as these medications can increase the bleeding.