Common eye injuries can be harmless and unsightly or severe and painful. Improper care or treatment can create or exacerbate eye problems.
The human eyeballs are some of the most sensitive parts of the body. They lack a permanent protective layer of skin and are therefore constantly open to outside forces and elements. As fully exposed organs, they are easily irritated or damaged. But despite their importance and fragility, many people do not properly protect their eyes and are not fully aware of everyday risks and the steps to take when faced with many common conditions. There are countless ways to harm the eyes, and they vary greatly in severity. Some appear worse than they are while others obviously threaten long-term health. As your primary eye care professional, we have experience diagnosing and treating all common eye injuries and even some not-so-common eye injuries.
Damages and Their Effects
The most frequent and noticeable signs that something may be wrong with the eye is redness or discomfort. There are many causes for these symptoms, and each should be addressed with a different course of treatment. For example, sometimes the problem is as simple as Subconjunctival Hemorrhages. While this sounds and can look very serious, it is simply a painless rupture of blood vessels that cause mild to intense redness. It eventually goes away and happens to everyone at varying levels all of the time.
Slightly more serious are corneal abrasions caused by dust or sand or any small particle landing on the cornea. Though these can be uncomfortable, they are not serious eye injuries. When properly addressed, long-term damage or infection can be easily avoided.
Sometimes the situation is obviously much more serious. Penetrating foreign objects such as stray metal filaments or even small pieces of plastic from Mardi Gras beads, for example, can cause deeper lacerations that are prone to infection. Or, the foreign element isn’t a solid at all. Caustic abrasions from acidic or alkali fluids should always be examined by a doctor even if the eyes were washed and irrigated in a timely manner. Sometimes the damage dealt affects the surrounding skin, but the swelling can cause uncomfortable pressure to the eye and vision impairment.
Major blunt force trauma can and often does cause hyphemas, or bleeding that occurs in the anterior chamber between the cornea and pupil. Orbital blowout fractures, which involve the cracking of facial bone structure, also happen as a result of such trauma. If you receive any serious strikes to the face, you should always consult a doctor.
The Immediate Dos and Don’ts
Recognizing or identifying the underlying cause of injury or discomfort is important to ensure that initial reactions do not instigate further damage. As a general rule, victims should never rub their closed lids after sustaining any eye injuries. Touching, attempts to remove foreign objects, or applying pressure are always a bad idea no matter how uncomfortable the situation. Self-applied eye patches can create dark, warm breeding grounds for bacteria. Usually warm water or saline solution can clear out any unwanted chemicals or objects, though if a puncture has occurred, washing can make matters worse. Most pain medication, too, is advised against as it typically thins the blood and worsens bleeding.
Playing It Safe
The best course of action is always to consult a medical professional, and experienced optometrists know how to quickly and properly treat all eye injuries.