An eye injury could be due to an infection, blow to an eye, chemical burns or simply due to any foreign object. It can simply lead to redness and irritation or the eyes and in severe cases can lead to bleeding, damage to the inner layers of the eye and worst case scenario can cause blindness. An injury to the eye or its surrounding tissues is one of the most common causes of emergency in an ophthalmology department in a hospital.
According to a 2015 study, the risk of eye injuries is higher in people in the age group 5–25 years and those above 70 years. Moreover, men are four times at a higher risk of eye injuries as compared to women. A review for the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1998 showed that around 55 million people with eye injuries stayed at home for more than a day in a year. Eye injuries caused 1.6 million people blind in both eyes and 2.3 million people with impaired vision in both the eyes. This is why it is imperative to prevent eye injuries and consult a doctor to get it treated if you experience any. Also, knowing about first-aid measures for eye injuries can help you to lower the risk of eye damage. Here are some essential first-aid tips to follow in case of an eye Injury.
First Aid For Eye Injuries
Remember that any injury to the eyes should never be ignored but taken seriously. This is because prompt medical attention can not only lower the risk of severe eye complications but can also save your vision. Here is what you need to do when you encounter various eye injuries such as blows to the eye, cuts or wounds, chemical burns or entry of a foreign body.
First-aid For Foreign Objects
It is important to identify and remove any foreign bodies that enter the eye as it can damage the conjunctiva and cornea. If a patient has an uncomfortable red eye, the first and foremost thing to do is to try to remove the material. Here is what you should do:
-You can remove small, visible foreign particles by using the edge of a tissue or a cotton wool bud.
-If you do not observe any foreign material but feeling something is present in the eye, pull the upper lid of the eye over the lower eyelid and roll over repeatedly.
-If this fails to provide any respite, then rinse your eye with water to remove the material. Keep your eyes open when you do so.
-If you still feel anything is present in the eye, see a doctor immediately. Also, seek medical attention if any foreign object gets embedded in the eye as removing it may cause further damage.
-Do not rub the eye as it can increase the risk of damaging the eye and harm it rather than providing relief.
-Do not use a needle or a sharp or pointed object to remove the object from the eye.
-Always wash your hands with water and mild soap before touching the eye as there is a high risk of transferring dust and bacteria from the hands to the eye.
First-aid For Chemical Burns
Chemical burns as the name suggests is caused when chemicals present in various household cleaners or toxic gases at the workplace get accidentally splashed into the eyes. This can burn the eyes and damage the eyes. If you ever face such a situation then, here is what you need to do.
-Do not panic but keep your eyes open and flush water to remove the chemicals from the eye.
-Flush your eyes for around 10 – 15 minutes so as to mitigate the effect of the chemicals on the eye.
-Consult a doctor as early as possible to look for any damage to the eye and get it treated immediately.
-Do not rub the eyes nor cover the eye with any bandage or hand as it can cause more harm than good.
-To prevent such an incident in the future, always use safety glasses or protective eyewear when handling abrasive chemicals both at home and work.
First-aid For Blows To The Eye
If a large object like a football hits the eye, it mostly impacts the orbital margin and the effect on the eye is slightly less. However, if a smaller ball like a tennis ball hits the eye, the impact is mostly on the eyeball and hence, the risk of injury and damage to the eye is more. In severe cases, it can lead to hemorrhage (blood coming out of the blood vessels). Here is what you must do if you experience a blow to the eye.
-Apply a cold compress on the affected eye and let it remain for 10 minutes. Repeat it after an interval of 10-15 minutes to ease pressure on the eye, soothe the eye and reduce inflammation.
-Do not put pressure on the eye as you apply the ice pack. Also, never use ice directly on the eye as it may cause stinging of the eye. If you do not have an ice pack, put some ice cubes in a cotton cloth or handkerchief and use it as a cold compress.
-If you experience bleeding, do not wash the eye but hold it with a cotton cloth and get to a hospital immediately.
-Seek urgent medical attention if there is bruising, bleeding, changes in the vision or if you feel an object being present or stuck in the eye.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
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