A ruptured eye is a serious medical emergency. This can be very painful and bring several symptoms, including vision loss. Surgery may be needed if a doctor determines your eye may not heal on its own.

If you experience a globe rupture or open globe injury in your eye (more commonly referred to as a ruptured eye), this can cause vision loss and blindness.

Treating this rare but serious eye injury immediately after you experience symptoms is important and can impact whether your vision could be threatened for the long term.

This article will explain the symptoms of a ruptured eye, the pain level associated with this condition, and what you should know about possible treatments and the healing process.

A ruptured eye is considered a vision threatening emergency that must be cared for immediately.

The term “globe rupture” is an umbrella term used to describe any injury to the cornea, sclera, or both.

This globe rupture happens when the integrity of the outer membranes of the eye is damaged by trauma.

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Illustration by Paul Lawrence

These ruptures can happen because of an accident or injury, no matter how old you are.

  • Children: The most common cause of a ruptured eye is sharp objects, such as scissors or writing utensils.
  • Adults: Injuries at work, assaults, and car accidents are common causes.
  • Older adults: Falls are the number one cause of globe rupture.

Trauma to the eye may either be a closed globe or an open globe. A closed globe injury is less serious and doesn’t fully penetrate the eye wall. An open globe injury breaks the full thickness of the eye wall.

When a globe rupture occurs, a section of the eye wall is no longer intact.

When someone experiences this kind of ocular trauma, it’s crucial that doctors know the signs and symptoms of globe rupture to make sure patients have immediate and effective treatment.

A ruptured eye can be extremely painful and it usually appears suddenly.

The pain can be severe, especially when you try to open, close, or move your eye.

Sometimes the pain is accompanied by immediate vision loss.

The most common symptoms include:

  • eye pain
  • fluid leaking from the eye
  • a visibly pierced eyelid
  • eye deformity (may not be readily apparent)
  • loss of vision

Not all of these symptoms may be very noticeable. That is why it’s so important to seek emergency medical attention as soon as possible, if you believe you’ve ruptured your eye from blunt trauma or ocular injury.

Most, if not all, ruptured eyes will require emergency surgery. This may include stitches to the wounds of the sclera and cornea. Your doctor will determine if your ruptured eye can heal on its own or if you’ll need surgery.

Your surgeon may reinsert eye tissue that has extruded through the wound, if possible, while also trying to return your eye pressure to normal.

After surgery, you may need to take both topical and oral antibiotics to prevent infection. It will take several weeks for your eye to heal, and you may require follow-up surgeries.

Steps to help your ruptured eye heal on its own

If your ruptured eye is able to heal on its own, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Do not touch or rub your eye. Keep all pressure off of your eye at all times.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects that may cause eye strain. Try also to avoid bending over, coughing sneezing, or straining when using the bathroom.
  • Wear eye protection to prevent any further injuries from occurring.
  • Take all medications as prescribed.
  • Get a tetanus shot, if recommended.
  • Lie in bed with your head elevated to about 30 degrees to help with healing.
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If you’ve experienced blunt trauma to the eye or were in an accident of any kind with injury to the eye, and you’re experiencing changes in vision, severe and sudden onset of pain, or oozing from your eye, get emergency medical help immediately by calling 911.

Acting fast is crucial to preserve vision.

In most cases, it’s best to have surgery within 12 to 24 hours of any rupture of the eye for the best chance of preserving vision.

Experiencing a ruptured eye is a serious medical emergency that may result in long-term complications. These may resolve within the weeks and months after the injury, but they may also persist for years. They include:

A ruptured eye or globe rupture is a serious medical emergency. It occurs when blunt trauma threatens the integrity of the outer membranes of the eye. This can occur due to accident or injury. Symptoms of a ruptured eye include sudden and severe pain, loss of vision, and oozing from the eye.

Treating a ruptured eye almost always requires surgery, and that will be determined by your doctor. If your case doesn’t require surgery, a period of rest is necessary for full healing.

It’s critical to call 911 or go to an emergency department in a hospital for care if you suspect that you’re experiencing a ruptured eye.