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Getting poked in the eye may happen anytime your eye comes in contact with a foreign object. A poke in the eye can be both shocking and painful, but an easy recovery is possible.

However, a poke in the eye can result in more serious conditions, such as a corneal abrasion or a direct injury to the eyeball itself. Read on to know how to treat a poke in the eye and prevent these complications from occurring.

A poke in the eye is a form of trauma. It can occur during events where there are multiple people in close quarters, such as sporting events, concerts, or parties. The confusion or movement of several people can result in getting poked in the eye with a finger or object.

It can also occur while playing sports, such as soccer or basketball.

Sometimes, a poke in the eye can be self-inflicted, occurring while putting on makeup or washing the area around your eyes. These types of pokes to the eye are usually minor and can be treated at home.

A minor poke in the eye can often be addressed at home. If the eye was poked with a blunt object, such as a finger, you can treat the injury with these steps:

  1. Wash your hands with soap. Don’t rub your eye.
  2. Rinse your eye with clean water or sterile saline solution if you have it.
  3. Apply a cool compress. Make sure to take the compress off periodically.
  4. If you’re experiencing discomfort, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

See your doctor if you suspect you scratched your eye’s surface. This is also known as corneal abrasion. Symptoms include:

  • continued discomfort
  • difficulty keeping your eye open
  • feels like something is in your eye

If bleeding from a scratch occurs on the skin around your eye, cover your eye with a clean fabric or cloth and apply pressure.

In more significant pokes to the eye, blood can fill up the front of the eye, over the pupil or iris. This is a medical emergency. These types of eye injuries are serious and can lead to permanent loss of vision. Get immediate medical attention.

Bleeding that involves the white part of the eye, or sclera, isn’t usually cause for concern unless you also notice changes in your vision.

Any changes in your vision after an injury require medical attention.

If you sustained a forceful impact near the eye and have a black eye, continue to apply cold compresses as necessary. See your doctor for further evaluation.

While getting poked in the eye is sometimes unavoidable, there are things you can do to avoid it from occurring:

  • Wear protective eyewear when working with tools, at potentially rowdy public events, or when participating in sports. Find protective eyewear online.
  • Avoid activities that may result in getting poked in the eye. Avoid areas where people are participating in activities that may result in a finger or elbow to the eye.
  • Eliminate hazards. Try to eliminate objects that may fall or cause you to fall in your home. Falling into an object can result in a poke in the eye.

Eye injuries can result in several more serious conditions, ranging from black eyes to corneal abrasions or eyeball injuries.

Seek medical attention right away after an injury if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:

If you got poked in the eye and any part of the object is still in your eye, get immediate medical help. Don’t remove the item if it’s punctured your eye.

A poke to the eye can occur when you least expect it. However, wearing proper eye protection is an important way to prevent trauma to the eye.

Don’t ignore symptoms that require immediate medical attention. If minor eye symptoms last more than 24 hours, contact your doctor. The sooner you get treatment, the less likely complications will occur.