When it comes to protecting the visual health of our families, understanding how to handle eye injuries is crucial. Eye emergencies can occur unexpectedly, and knowing the right steps to take when they happen can significantly influence the outcome.
Optometrists play a pivotal role in managing eye emergencies, offering both expertise and reassurance during stressful times. Early intervention and professional guidance are key to preventing long-term damage and ensuring the well-being of our sight.
What to Do: Common Eye Injuries
Chemical Eye Burn
Chemical eye burns require immediate action to minimise damage.
Immediate Rinse: As soon as the incident occurs, begin by gently holding the affected eye open. Carefully rinse the eye with lukewarm, clean water or a saline solution. This should be done immediately and continuously for at least 15 minutes.
Continue Rinsing: If the burning sensation persists or if the chemical is known to be highly corrosive, continue rinsing while seeking medical attention.
Seek Professional Help: After initial first aid, it’s crucial to seek professional medical advice. The type of chemical involved plays a significant role in the treatment, and professional evaluation is necessary to determine the appropriate course of action.
Chemical eye burns are time-sensitive, and the initial minutes are critical. Quick and correct first aid measures can significantly impact the healing process and outcome.
If in doubt, always opt for professional medical guidance.
Foreign Body in Eye
When a foreign object, like dirt, sand or other debris, enters the eye, it can cause discomfort or even harm. Acting quickly and correctly is important in such situations.
Initial Response – Blink and Rinse
Blinking: Start by blinking gently. Blinking can help your tears wash the foreign body out naturally.
Rinsing with Saline: If blinking doesn’t remove the object, rinse your eye with clean water or a saline solution. Tilt your head to the side, holding your eyelid open, and gently pour a steady stream of saline into the affected eye.
When to Seek Professional Assistance
If the discomfort persists after rinsing, or if your vision is affected, seek professional care. Do not attempt to remove the object by rubbing or touching your eye, as this can cause further injury.
Blunt trauma to the eye, resulting from impacts like sports injuries or accidental strikes, needs immediate attention.
Clean the Area: Gently clean around the injured eye with clean water, being careful not to apply pressure to the eye itself.
Cold Compress: Lightly apply a cold compress to the area surrounding the eye. This helps reduce swelling and pain. Avoid placing ice directly on the skin; instead, wrap it in a clean cloth.
Signs that Professional Care is Needed
Persistent Pain or Vision Changes: If pain continues or you notice changes in your vision, these are signs that the injury may be serious.
Visible Abnormalities: Any visible changes in the eye or eyelid, like severe swelling or bruising, necessitate professional evaluation.
Fluid Leakage: Any leakage of fluid from the eye, especially if it’s clear or bloody, requires immediate medical attention.
In cases of blunt trauma, consulting with Bayside Eyecare or visiting an emergency department is crucial, even if symptoms seem mild. It’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your vision.
Scratched or Cut Eye
A scratched or cut eye can be alarming. Taking the right steps immediately can help prevent further harm.
Avoid Rubbing: Do not rub the eye. Rubbing can worsen the injury or introduce bacteria, leading to infection.
No Rinsing or Pressure: Avoid rinsing the eye or applying pressure. These actions can exacerbate the injury, especially if there’s a foreign object involved or if the cut is deep.
Guidelines for Seeking Care
If you suspect the eye is cut or significantly scratched, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately.
Emergency Department Visit: For deep cuts, head directly to an emergency department, such as the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, without delay.
Optometrist Consultation: For less severe scratches, schedule an urgent appointment with your local optometrist. An optometrist can assess the damage, offer appropriate treatment, and reduce the risk of complications like infection.
Penetrating Eye Injury
Penetrating eye injuries, where an object breaks through the eye’s outer layer, are extremely serious and require immediate medical attention.
These injuries can lead to severe complications, including vision loss, infection, or damage to the internal structures of the eye.
Immediate Action – Emergency Department
Penetrating eye injuries are a serious matter. The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH) emergency department is your best resource for immediate, specialised care in such critical situations. If the object is still in your eye, it is important to not pull it out as it could cause further damage
While the RVEEH emergency department specialises in eye injuries and provides comprehensive care, if it’s not the closest option, your first priority should be to visit the nearest emergency facility. They can provide initial treatment and, if necessary, arrange for transfer to a specialised facility like the RVEEH.
Eye injuries require prompt and expert care. At Bayside Eyecare, we’re committed to offering top-notch guidance and treatment for various eye conditions.