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How to Manage Common Eye Injuries

Posted on June 24, 2015

You expect to bash your toe or scrape your hands every once in a while. You use your hands and feet every day for all kinds of tough or complicated activities, so you think nothing of it when the occasional minor injury occurs. However, what if an injury happened to a less durable part of your body, like your eyes?

Eyes have delicate nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and other tissues with little protection from the outside world. Sure, your eyelashes keep dust at bay, and your eyelids block most serious injuries, but what if they didn't move quickly enough?

Sometimes your body's safety features can't protect it well enough, and you end up with injuries. If these injuries occur in your eyes, you may feel especially worried—but don't panic. Simply call your optometrist for an appointment and follow the tips listed below.

1. Swelling/Black Eye

This type of injury normally occurs after a blunt object hits you in the face. The blow could come from a baseball, a fist, a piece of furniture, etc. It just hits you squarely on the eye and leads to puffiness. Bruising may also occur, leading to the effect that we call a "black eye."

When this happens, simply apply an ice pack to the swollen area and take over-the-counter painkillers. Drink plenty of water as well, as this will facilitate healing and help the swelling go down faster. If bruising occurred, schedule a visit with your optometrist. He or she will want to make sure your eye didn't sustain internal damage.

2. Bleeding

Your eye could bleed for several reasons. It could bleed because you accidentally poked it. It can also bleed because you exercised too enthusiastically. Even the smallest stressor could make your eye have a subconjunctival hemorrhage—but you don't have to worry if this happens. Blood may fill the whites of your eyes for a little while, and you'll look a little strange for a couple weeks, but this injury will heal painlessly on its own. That being said, if you suffered serious facial trauma on or around your eyes, any bleeding could indicate a serious problem. Visit your eye specialist at Londonderry Eye Care to make sure permanent damage doesn't occur.

3. Scratches/Corneal Abrasion

Your eye can get scratches from a poke, scrape, foreign object, or contact lens. When scratches happen, you'll notice intense discomfort or stinging, redness, and sensitivity to light. Seek professional treatment to ensure further injuries won't occur.

A scratch opens up your eye to bacterial infections, and since your eyes contain tons of nutrient-rich tissues, bacteria will thrive there. See your optometrist no more than a few hours after the scratch occurs. In the meantime, refrain from rubbing or otherwise touching your eye. You can tape a paper cup over your eye until then.

If the wound feels deeper than an abrasion, then you have a worse problem. This means that you have a corneal laceration instead, which means that the wound extends to more sensitive tissues deeper in your eye. You may require surgery to repair the damage. Again, don’t touch the eye and cover it with a cup until your procedure.

4. Foreign Object Intrusion

You've probably gotten an eyelash in your eye before. If you get anything else in your eye, you try and get it out the same way. Wash your hands thoroughly, then try to find the object. Once you find it, gently touch it to try and get it out. Don't press or rub—just see if it will stick to your finger without pressing. If it doesn't, get pure water or a saline solution, and flush your eye.

If the object still doesn't come out after that, it may have embedded into your eye. At this point, you'll need professional help.

5. Foreign Object Penetration

If anything embeds or stabs into your eye, don't pull the object out. Don't rub your eye either. Simply keep the area isolated or covered (if the object isn't too big to cover) and go in for emergency treatment. If you try to pull the object out on your own, you could cause your eye serious injury—even blindness.

6. Chemical Burns

Tears can flush your eyes fairly well. However, in some cases, they may not do enough. For example, if anything acidic gets in your eye, you should flush it with pure water or a saline solution immediately. Don't feel alarmed if you see redness. It will fade eventually. Normally, acids don't cause any damage unless a strong one gets in your eye.

You should worry about alkaline substances like oven cleaners or chalk more than you worry about acids. These substances cause less immediate pain, but they do cause more damage. Flush your eye immediately and schedule an appointment with your optometrist.

7. Traumatic Iritis

This term refers to inflammation of the iris after you get hit or poked in the eye. This affects your ability to see clearly, and it could cause permanent vision damage. Cover your eyes and have someone drive you to the optometrist. If you get treatment within a week of the injury, then you have a good chance for recovery.

If any of the above happen to you, stay calm. You probably won't lose your eyesight. Simply use these tips and visit your optometrist at Londonderry Eye Care to keep your eyes whole and healthy for years to come.