Eye injuries happen from time-to-time – even after all reasonable efforts to protect our eyes have been made. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Americans have over 2.5 million eye injuries every year. So if you find yourself in that statistic, it’s important to know what to do in case of emergency to help reduce an injury’s impact on your vision.
Common injuries include chemical burns, specks of debris (sand, dust, etc.), blows to the eye, and cuts/punctures. These types of injuries may result in either a trip to the emergency room or to your eye doctor.
Here’s what to do in case of emergency:
What it is: Chemicals like shampoos, gasoline, cleaning products, etc., that splash into the eye and cause a burning sensation.
What to do: Immediately flush the eye with clean water for 15 minutes.
What not to do: Do not bandage the eye.
What it is: Any small foreign object like a gnat, dirt, sand, etc., that flies into your eye.
What to do: Lift your upper eyelid over your bottom lid to help flush the eye with your tears. If that doesn’t work, use a commercial eye wash (saline solution) available from your local pharmacy.
What not to do: Do not rub your eye. Do not use tweezers or any other object to try and dislodge the particle.
What it is: A direct hit to the eye from a fist, baseball, or other objects.
What to do: Apply a cold compress (i.e., ice pack, a bag of frozen peas) to the eye area. Check for any eye pain, blurry vision, protruding eyeball, blood, or discoloration.
What not to do: Do not apply any pressure on the injured eye.
Cuts and Punctures
What it is: Any cut or puncture to the eyelid, eyeball, or eye socket.
What to do: Cover the eye area with a rigid shield to protect it and tape it in place. The bottom of a paper cup is a good quick-fix until you’re able to get to an emergency room.
What not to do: Do not try to remove any object stuck in the eye. Do not wash the eye.