According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about 2.4 million eye injuries occur each year(opens in a new tab). Some of these injuries are minor, while others can be quite serious. In other words, a lot of people each year are at risk for vision loss and other serious complications.
While most eye injuries are minor and heal on their own, some can be serious and require medical attention. To avoid eye injuries, it's important to take precautions when necessary and seek prompt medical treatment if you do sustain an injury. Remember: your eyes are delicate, so it's always better to be safe than sorry!
In honor of Eye Injury Prevention Month, we wanted to share some information about the most common eye injuries and the steps you can take to prevent them.
Bruising around the eye, more commonly known as a black eye, is perhaps one of the most common minor eye injuries. Black eyes are the result of trauma, often due to contact sports, playground accidents, or even car accidents. Although they may not seem serious, black eyes can be quite painful and cause swelling. If you experience a black eye, the best thing to do is apply a cold compress to the area for 15-20 minutes at a time.
However, it's important to know that blunt force trauma can cause more serious eye injuries, like an orbital blowout fracture. The orbit is the bony part of the eye socket. An orbital blowout fracture occurs when the bones surrounding the eye are shattered or broken. These types of fractures often require x-rays and can cause serious damage to the affected eye, surrounding tissues, and nearby facial bones. If you think you may have an orbital fracture, it's important to seek medical help from an ophthalmologist right away.
An orbital fracture can also lead to retinal detachment, though this may not occur for months or years after the initial injury. In such cases, regular visits to your ophthalmologist are very important, as immediate treatment of retinal detachment can make all the difference in preventing vision loss.
The best way to protect yourself from blunt force injuries to the eye is by wearing eye protection when necessary. For instance, if you play a sport like baseball or lacrosse, a face or eye shield can be helpful in preventing a number of sports-related eye injuries, including black eyes and orbital blowout fractures.
Another common eye injury is a foreign object in the eye. This can happen when you're working with certain tools or gardening and something flies into your eye, whether that be dirt, sawdust, or even small bits of metal. It can also happen when you're cleaning your house and a speck of dust or piece of lint gets into your eye. In some cases, foreign objects may only cause irritation, but in other cases, they can cause a more serious eye injury.
For example, if a foreign body is embedded in your eye, you may need surgery to remove it. If the object scratches your cornea, it can lead to an infection or other complications. And if a sharp object punctures your eyeball, it can cause serious damage to the eye and even lead to blindness.
The best way to avoid a foreign object injury is to wear eye protection when necessary. For instance, if you're working with power tools, doing yard work, or cleaning your house, wearing safety glasses or goggles can help prevent foreign bodies or sharp objects from getting into your eye and causing damage.
Speaking of cleaning the house, this can present another kind of danger: chemicals. Most chemical exposures happen as a result of mishaps at home, such as using the wrong cleaning solution in your contact lens case or getting bleach in your eye while cleaning the bathroom. Many cleaning products contain chemicals that can be harmful to the eyes if they come into contact with them, potentially leading to vision problems and blindness. Even simple household items like bleach or shampoo can cause chemical burns if they get in your eye.
Symptoms of a chemical burn include pain, redness, watering, and swelling. In more serious cases, it can lead to ulcers on the cornea, corneal scarring, and even blindness. If you get a chemical in your eye, it's important to rinse it out immediately with cool, clean water for at least 15 minutes. Then, you should seek medical care and proper treatment from an eye doctor as soon as possible.
The best way to avoid chemical exposure is to take precautions when using cleaning products. For instance, you should always read the labels before using any cleaning product and follow the instructions carefully. In addition, you should wear gloves and protective eyewear when handling chemicals. And again, if you accidentally get a chemical in your eye, be sure to rinse it out immediately and seek medical care right away!
Another common eye injury is a corneal abrasion, or a scratch on the surface of the eye. This can happen due to a foreign object in the eye, rubbing your eye too hard, sleeping in your contacts, or blunt force trauma to the eye. Corneal abrasions may only cause minor irritation, but in some cases, it can lead to more serious problems that may require immediate medical attention.
For instance, if the abrasion is deep enough, it can penetrate the cornea and cause an infection. In addition, if there's debris in the eye that's causing the abrasion, it could lead to more serious damage to the eye. Symptoms of corneal abrasions include pain, redness, watering, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. If you think you have a corneal abrasion, it's important to see your ophthalmologist right away so they can properly treat the injury and prevent any further injury or damage.
Corneal abrasions can also lead to traumatic iritis, or an inflammation of the iris. The iris is the colored part of your eye, and iritis causes it to become red, painful, and irritated. If you have any of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention right away as iritis can lead to permanent vision problems like glaucoma if left untreated.
The best way to avoid a corneal abrasion is to take precautions when doing any activities that could potentially cause an injury. For instance, if you're working with power tools, you should always wear safety glasses or goggles. In addition, be sure to clean your contact lenses properly and never sleep in them. And if you do happen to get an abrasion, be sure to see your ophthalmologist right away so they can properly treat the injury.
A subconjunctival hemorrhage is a condition that occurs when blood vessels on the outside of the eye burst and bleed into the space between the conjunctiva and sclera, or the underlying white part of the eye. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including trauma to the eye, high blood pressure, or coughing. Luckily, this eye injury often looks worse than it is.
A subconjunctival hemorrhage usually doesn't cause any pain or vision problems and will often go away on its own within a few weeks. However, if you have this condition and are also experiencing pain, sensitivity to light, or blurred vision, it's important to seek medical attention right away as these could be signs of a more severe eye injury.
The best way to avoid a subconjunctival hemorrhage is to take precautions when doing any activities that could potentially cause trauma to the eye. For instance, if you're playing sports, you should always wear protective eyewear. In addition, if you have high blood pressure, it's important to control it with medication and lifestyle changes. And if you do happen to get a subconjunctival hemorrhage, be sure to see your ophthalmologist so they can properly evaluate the injury and rule out any other potential problems.
Photokeratitis is a condition that occurs when your eyes are exposed to too much ultraviolet (UV) light. This can happen if you spend too much time in the sun without wearing sunglasses or if you look at the sun directly. Common symptoms of photokeratitis include pain, redness, watering, light sensitivity, and blurred vision.
If you have any of these symptoms, it's important to seek immediate medical care as photokeratitis can lead to more serious problems like corneal ulcers or cataracts. The best way to avoid photokeratitis is to take precautions when you're in the sun. For instance, always wear sunglasses that block out 99-100% of UV light. If you do happen to get photokeratitis, be sure to see your ophthalmologist right away so they can properly treat the condition and prevent any further damage to your eyes.
Most eye injuries can be avoided with the proper prevention methods and eye safety knowledge. However, if eye injuries occur despite your best efforts, the experts at Everett & Hurite will be here for you! Immediate medical care is your best defense against permanent damage to your eyes or permanent vision loss, so don't hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns.
The experts at Everett & Hurite are proud to provide comprehensive eye care to our communities, whether that means treating eye injuries or performing routine check-ups. Schedule an appointment online today!