Did you know that most eye injuries occur in the home? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma, nearly half of all reported eye injuries are caused by activities at home such as routine repairs, yard work, cleaning, and cooking. Over a third of those injuries happen in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living, or family room.
What's the best way to prevent injury? You guessed it—wear eye protection! The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma now recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear for use during projects and activities that may present risk of injury. If you have any eye injury, contact your eye care practitioner immediately for advice. For any eye injury, call your eye doctor immediately for advice. Most eye doctors have emergency contact numbers for nights and weekends. Most eye doctors have emergency contact numbers for injuries that occur after normal business hours or on weekends. In certain extreme situations such as a penetrating eye injury or an eye knocked out of the socket, it may be better to get to the hospital immediately without taking the time to try calling anyone. Once you are in the care of a doctor, be sure to mention if you wear contact lenses so you can be advised whether to leave them in or remove them. Depending on the type of eye injury, the doctor may want you to flush your eye with water or saline solution. In more serious situations, you may need surgery. Treat all eye injuries as potential emergencies, and never hesitate to contact or see an eye doctor immediately. Don't take risks with your eyesight. Remember, you have only one pair of eyes. You can't prevent all eye damage, so here are some guidelines in case you're faced with an eye injury.
Common Eye Injuries
Eye swelling and puffy, swollen eyelids can result from being struck in the eye such as from a baseball moving at a high speed.
The best immediate treatment for this type of eye injury is an ice pack.
You may have a simple black eye (bruising around the eye), but you should see an eye doctor to make sure there's no internal damage.
Scratched Eye (Corneal Abrasion)
Common causes of abrasions to the eye's surface (corneal abrasions) are getting poked in the eye or rubbing the eye when a foreign body is present, such as dust or sand. Corneal abrasions are very uncomfortable and cause eye redness and severe sensitivity to light.
If you know something has scratched your eye, it's very important to see your eye doctor or an emergency room/urgent care center to seek treatment for your eye injury.
Scratches also can make your eye susceptible to infection from bacteria or a fungus. Certain types of bacteria and fungi can enter the eye through a scratch and cause serious harm in as little as 24 hours. Even blindness can result. This is especially true if whatever scratched your eye is dirty or contaminated.
Remember also that infections from eye injuries such as scratches can originate from unexpected sources such as a baby's fingernails or tree branches.
If you have a scratched eye, don't rub it. And don't patch your eye, either. Bacteria like dark, warm places to grow, and a patch might provide the ideal environment. Simply keep the eye closed or loosely tape a paper cup or eye shield over it. See your doctor as soon as possible to check out this type of eye injury.
Black Eye (or other swelling)
Use a cold compress, but try to avoid applying pressure.
If pain or swelling continues, contact your doctor immediately.
Getting unexpectedly splashed or sprayed in the eye by substances other than clean, harmless water can be scary. Some substances burn or sting but are fairly harmless in the long run, while others can cause serious injury. The basic makeup of the chemical involved can make a lot of difference, such as:
If you or your kids enjoy foam parties, we're going to have to burst your bubble: After a 2012 foam party held in Florida, at least 56 of the 350 attendees suffered injuries to the eyes and skin.
Eye injury symptoms included irritation, severe pain, pinkness/redness, decreased visual acuity, conjunctivitis, light sensitivity, drainage, abnormal pH, eye surface abrasions, tearing, blurry vision, watery discharge and foreign body sensation. Use eyewash or water to flush the eye out.
Acid. As a general rule, acids can cause considerable redness and burning but can be washed out fairly easily.
Alkali. Substances or chemicals that are basic (alkali) are much more serious but may not seem so because they don't cause as much immediate eye pain or redness as acids. Some examples of alkali substances are oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and even chalk dust.
Chemical exposures and burns are usually caused by a splash of liquid getting in your eye. But they can be caused in other ways as well, such as by rubbing your eyes and transferring a chemical from your hands to your eyes or by getting sprayed in the eye by hair spray or other aerosols.If you're splashed in the eye, put your head under a steady stream of barely warm tap water for about 15 minutes. Just let it run into your eye and down your face.
Avoid rubbing your eye and see the doctor as soon as you can.
If a foreign object such as metal or a fish hook penetrates your eye, visit the emergency room/urgent care center right away. You could cause even more injury to your eye if you attempt to remove the object yourself or if you rub your eye.
Avoid rubbing your eye.
For small debris, like sand, use eyewash to flush the eye out.
For larger debris, lift the upper eyelid over the lashes of your lower lid and blink several times and allow tears to flush out the particle.
If the particle remains, keep your eye closed and see your doctor immediately.
Don't rinse with water, don't remove the object, and don't rub your eye. Avoid applying any pressure to your eye so you don't cause further damage.
Avoid any type of anti-inflammatory medications—these thin your blood and may cause more bleeding.
Shield your eye until you can see a doctor - the emergency room may be your best bet!
This is the easiest eye injury to avoid by wearing sunglasses or other protective eyewear when you're in the sun (even on cloudy days).
If you suspect your eyes are sunburned, remain in the dark for a few days and use lubricating eye drops for relief.
If symptoms don't improve or worsen, visit your doctor immediately.
The first rule of thumb when you have any eye injury is to avoid touching, rubbing, or putting any kind of pressure on your eye. "Even if the injury seems mild, there may be internal damage to the eye," says Dr. Sava. She recommends that you visit your eye doctor as soon as you can in any case.
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