Eye Care

Written by Linda Hepler, RN | Published on July 21, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on July 21, 2014

First Aid: Eye Care

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 to use caution with household cleaners in order to prevent injury. 

First aid care for chemical burns includes:

  • Encourage the person to remain calm and keep his or her eyes open until they can be flushed. Closing the eyes traps the chemical in and does further damage.
  • Flush eyes generously with water for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure the person keeps their eyes open during flushing.
  • Get immediate medical care.

You can also call your local poison 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 object cannot be removed by itself.

First aid care for foreign objects in the eyes includes: 

  • Prevent the person from rubbing their eyes.
  • Have him or her lift the upper eyelid up and out over the lower lid. Then have the person roll their eyes around.
  • Flush the eyes generously with water. Have the person keep 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.

If there is an object embedded in the eye, do NOT remove, 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

Sudden strikes from objects or humans can hit the eye directly or around the socket. Minor blows can often be managed at home; however any eye injury should be monitored for signs of a more serious injury or potential infection.

First aid care for a blow to the eyes includes:

  • Gently place a cold compress over the eye in five to 10 minute intervals. Do not place ice directly on skin; use a cloth in between the ice and skin.
  • Call your doctor. He or she may want to examine the eye for potential damage.
  • After 24 hours, switch to warm compresses. This will help with 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 (white part) of the eye

Cuts or Puncture Wounds of 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. 

First aid care for cuts or punctures includes:

  • Do not wash the eye or lid.
  • If there is an object embedded in the eye, do NOT remove. You may do further damage.
  • Cover the eye with an eye shield, or if not available, the bottom half of a paper cup. Tape the shield gently over eye to secure on the face.
  • Seek prompt medical attention.

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