Written By: Tanya Racoobian
Published: September 25, 2014
Disponible en Español
More than 2.5 million people in the U.S. suffer eye injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and since your eyes are your window to the world, it’s important to protect them and keep them healthy.
“Eye injuries can range from a minor irritation to something more serious that could lead to vision loss,” said William Trattler, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Medical Arts Surgery Center at Baptist Hospital of Miami. “Symptoms that include eye pain, redness, sensitivity to light and reduced vision are indications of an injury that needs prompt attention.”
Many people think eye injuries happen mostly on the job, picturing workers in a factory or on a construction site. However, the most common place where eye injuries occur is at home, according to Wayne Bizer, DO, medical director the Baptist Eye Surgery Center in Sunrise, Florida.
Here are some of the most common causes of eye injuries and guidelines for dealing with them:
- Scratched eye – There are several different ways an eye can become scratched. Whether caused by a finger rubbing it or a piece of debris, such as sand or dirt, a scratch to the surface of the eye causes a corneal abrasion. This type of injury usually heals rapidly by keeping the eye closed or patched, but there is a risk of infection which can be treated with topical antibiotic drops from your eye doctor.
- Chemical burn – A splash to the eye by a chemical substance, such as a household cleaner, can be scary. Some substances burn or sting but don’t result in long-term harm, while others can be serious. If a chemical splashes in your eye, it’s important to rinse it with clean water right away. If painful and irritating symptoms continue, go to your eye doctor, an emergency center or an urgent care center for immediate care.
- Contact lenses – Dr. Trattler urges people who wear contact lenses while sleeping to use caution. “Sleeping in contacts is associated with a higher risk of infection,” he said. “And an infection in the center of the cornea can lead to permanent vision loss.”
- Red Eye – When a red line or area that looks like a splotch of red paint appears on the white part of the eye, a blood vessel underneath has broken. Called a subconjunctival hemorrhage, “red eye” usually occurs spontaneously after sneezing, coughing or straining in some way. Most of the time it is harmless and will clear up on its own. Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, shouldn’t be confused with “red eye.” Pink eye is a common eye infection in children and adults that refers to inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and the white part of the eyeball.
- Trauma – Any type of blunt force trauma to the eye can cause swelling or a black eye and potentially tear structures in the eye. Activities at home, such as uncorking a bottle, throwing a ball or using a power tool, are common culprits. Traumatic injuries to the eye usually require medical attention.
“The most important thing we can do for eye injuries is to prevent them happening by using a proper pair of protective eye wear,” said Dr. Bizer. “If an injury does occur, don’t delay in getting care.”