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Eye Care

First aid care for eye injuries

Key points

  1. Any kind of injury or trauma to the eyes should be taken seriously.
  2. Prompt medical attention for eye problems can save your vision and prevent further complications.
  3. Learn about the different types of first aid that you should administer for varied eye injuries.

Any kind of injury or trauma to the eyes should be taken seriously. Prompt medical attention for eye problems can save your vision and prevent further complications.

Chemical burns

Chemicals common at home or in the workplace can easily get splashed into your eyes. It is important to wear safety glasses when handling toxic or abrasive chemicals and use caution with household cleaners in order to prevent injury.

First aid care for chemical burns includes:

  • Remain calm and keep your eyes open until they can be flushed. Closing your eyes traps the chemical in and does further damage.
  • Flush eyes generously with water for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure you keep your eyes open during flushing.
  • Get immediate medical care.

You can also call your local poison control center for instructions. Be prepared to give information about the name and type of chemical, if possible.

Foreign object

The eye often cleans itself of debris with tearing, so no treatment is needed until you are certain the eye cannot remove the object by itself.

First aid care for foreign objects in the eyes includes:

  • Don’t rub your eyes.
  • Lift the upper eyelid up and out over the lower lid, and then roll your eyes around.
  • Flush your eyes generously with water, and keep your eyes open during flushing.
  • Repeat the previous steps until the object is eliminated.
  • Follow up with a doctor to make sure all debris is gone and the eyes have not been scratched or damaged. Your doctor may evaluate you for damage by using a special eye drop that fluoresces under a certain type of light; it will help reveal any cuts or scratches in the cornea.

If there is an object embedded in the eye, do NOT remove it, as this may cause further damage. Instead, cover the eye with an eye shield or gauze and seek prompt medical attention.

Blows to the eye

Impact to the eye is another form of eye trauma. Minor blows can often be managed at home. Any eye injury should be monitored for signs of a serious injury or potential infection.

First aid care for a blow to the eyes includes:

  • Gently place a cold compress over your eye in 5- to 10-minute intervals. Do not place ice directly on the skin. Instead, use a cloth in between the ice and skin.
  • Call your doctor. They may want to examine the eye for potential damage. If the trauma was significant (for example, skull fracture or displaced bones), you will need to go to an emergency department for immediate evaluation.
  • After 24 hours, switch to warm compresses. This will help lessen bruising.

Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • drainage from the affected eye
  • vision changes
  • persistent pain
  • any visible abnormalities or bleeding in the sclera, which is the white part of the eye

Cuts or puncture wounds on the eye or lid

You should seek immediate medical care if you suffer this type of injury. However, you need to follow some basic first aid steps to ensure proper safety and support.

Here are some first aid tips for treating cuts and puncture wounds:

  • Do not wash the eye or lid.
  • If there is an object embedded in your eye, do NOT remove it. Doing so can cause further damage.
  • Cover the eye with an eye shield. If you don’t have one available, place the bottom half of a paper cup over your eye and tape over it gently to secure it to your face.
  • Seek prompt medical attention.

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