Eye Injuries

Ouch! Nobody wants to injure their eyes, but unfortunately, sometimes it happens. Eye injuries occur in many different settings, including at work, at home or while playing sports. 

Some common kinds of eye injuries include:
Blows to the eye – i.e. getting hit with a fist, elbow or ball
Foreign bodies – i.e. small pieces of grit, sawdust or metal entering the eye
Scratches and abrasions – i.e. from fingernails, tree branches or bushes
Chemical burns – i.e. exposure to cleaning products like bleach
Radiation exposure – i.e. ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun
Penetration or cutting – i.e. cuts from glass or projectiles from tools or machinery

Wearing contact lenses incorrectly can also cause injury to the eyes, especially if they’re dirty or not sterile, don’t fit you properly or you have worn them for too long.

So what can you do if you’re suffered an injury to your eye? Thankfully, the majority of eye injuries don’t usually require medical treatment and can clear up within 24 hours with appropriate self-care at home. If you experience any discomfort, taking painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol may be of help. If you are concerned, or still experience symptoms after 24 hours, please contact your GP or optician.

If you have loose particles or irritants in your eyes, flushing it with an eyewash or clean water for 10 to 15 minutes is recommended. If you wear contact lenses, remove them before you begin flushing your eye(s).

To flush your eyes:
Sit down and slant your head so your injured eye is lower than the other eye, ideally over a sink or bathtub
Use a glass or cupped handed to repeatedly pour water across the injured eye from the bridge of your nose
If both of your eyes are affected, tile your head back, keeping both eyes level with each other and use the technique above to flush both eyes
If you have access to a shower, aim a gentle stream of warm water just above the affected eye (or at your forehead if both eyes are affected) and hold your eyes open while you flush them
If you were working outside, you can also use a garden hose on a low setting to flush your eyes

All eye injuries caused by exposure to chemicals should be seen by an eye doctor as soon as possible after you’ve flushed it out. You should also seek medical advice if any foreign bodies remain in the eye following flushing. Do not try to remove objects stuck in your eye yourself; as you may unintentionally cause further damage.

You should immediately visit your local A&E department if you have:
Persistent or severe pain in your eye(s)
A decrease in your vision or double vision
Visible blood in your eye
Deep cuts around your eye
Pain when you’re exposed to a bright light
Flashes, spots, halos or shadows in your field of vision
Foreign particles that cannot be washed out
An irregularly shaped pupil
Your eyeball is protruding from your eye socket

As with many things though, prevention is the best precaution – where possible, you should always wear appropriate eye protection, for example wearing safety glasses if you work with machinery or power tools or wearing a protective mask during contact sports. You should also follow all instructions to ensure you use contact lenses in a safe and hygienic manner.