The blink of an eye is all the time it takes to experience serious and long-lasting damage to your vision. Whether it’s a piece of metal lodged in your eye from machinery, exposure to harmful cleaning chemicals or being struck in or around the eye by a heavy object while playing sports, an eye injury can happen without warning. Knowing what to do in an emergency can mean the difference between temporary and permanent damage to your eyes. Here are five common eye injuries and the steps you should take right away to minimize the impact.CAUTION: If you have an eye injury of any kind, seek immediate medical treatment from a trained professional. The longer you wait, the more serious the damage could be.
1. Foreign Object Stuck in Your Eye
If a foreign object, such as a piece of metal or glass, is lodged in your eye, you MUST immediately visit the emergency room. Rubbing your eye or attempting to remove the object yourself could cause even more injury to your eye and even result in permanent blindness. If you can, before visiting the emergency room, loosely tape a small paper cup over your eye. This will prevent further damage and reduce the possible risk of infection.
2. Chemicals in Your Eyes
If you get unexpectedly splashed or sprayed in the eye by chemicals or liquids of any kind, you run the risk of permanent damage to your vision. Even something as simple as hair spray can cause a great deal of discomfort. If you're splashed in the eye by a chemical, DO NOT rub your eyes. Instead, immediately rinse your eyes out under a stream of lukewarm tap water for 10-15 minutes. Afterwards, you should put a cool wet compress or ice pack onto your eyes and go directly to your emergency eye care professional for a full exam.
3. Blood Red Eye (Subconjunctival Hemorrhages)
This eye injury occurs when blood leaks from the blood vessels found between the white of the eye (known as the sclera) and the clear covering of the eye (called the conjunctiva). As a result, the white of the eye may turn completely blood red. This type of injury can happen on its own or because of a minor injury to the eye. The good news is that these hemorrhages are often painless and look worse than they actually are, usually clearing up over a few weeks. If you experience this injury you should still immediately visit your eye care professional to ensure that it’s not symptomatic of something more serious.
4. Eye Swelling
This injury is incredibly common for many athletes and can occur from being struck by a baseball, puck or other object moving at high speeds. If this happens to you, you should immediately put an ice pack onto the injured area to reduce the swelling and then go directly to your eye care professional. Even if you don’t think your eye has been directly struck, it’s important to get a full exam to ensure that there is no permanent damage.
5. Scratched Eye (Corneal Abrasion)
This type of injury can happen when you’re struck in the eye (such as by a branch) or even if sand or dirt gets into your eye. Typically, your eye will become red, irritated and sensitive to light. If you think you’ve scratched your eyeball, avoid rubbing it or running it under water. Instead, simply keep your eye closed or loosely tape a paper cup over the injured eye before immediately visiting the nearest emergency eye care professional.
If you’ve experienced an eye injury, your FYidoctors eye care professional can help, with many of our locations offering emergency walk-ins. Be sure to write down the contact details of the nearest FYidoctors clinic or add the number to your cell phone so you can call or visit the clinic in the event of an emergency. Find an FYidoctors location near you