Common Eye Injuries and their correct treatment

Diwali is around the corner and preparations are in full swing everywhere. While the festival of lights brings a lot of joy and happiness in our lives, it's also brings its share of accidents and mishaps. While we are all familiar with burns and small fires due to fireworks, a more common and serious problem is eye injuries for the same reason.

How to prevent eye injuries due to fireworks...

  • Children should not be allowed to play with any type of fireworks including sparklers, not even under the supervision of adults
  • Adults who are handling fireworks should wear protective glasses for their eyes, during the entire time, and ensure their family members and bystanders do the same
  • When it comes to professional-grade fireworks, they should only be handled by trained pyro-technicians

What to do when an eye injury from fireworks occurs?

  • Do not rub the eyes, rinse it with water or apply pressure
  • Do not attempt to remove any objects that may be sticking to the eye.
  • Do not apply ointments or home-remedies. Some of these ointments contain blood-thinning medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen which increase bleeding
  • Consult a doctor immediately.

Other common eye-injuries

Eye injuries are a lot more common than we are aware. Every year, hundreds of Indians meet an ophthalmologist for injuries sustained in their eye(s). Interestingly, most of these injuries happen at home, while cooking, cleaning, doing yard work or undertaking minor repairs. The rest of the injuries happen at the workplace.

The best way to safeguard oneself against eye injuries is to use protective eyewear. There is a whole range of safety glasses and sports glasses that are available in the market today from leading brands. They come in various shapes, sizes, colours and price ranges.

Here are some guidelines on what to do when an injury happens, depending on the cause of the injury.

Foreign Objects

One of the most common causes of eye injury is foreign objects hitting or falling into the eyes. In such an eventuality,

  • Do not rub the injured eye(s)
  • If you suspect small debris or sand particles to be the culprit, rinse your eyes with water to flush the particle out.
  • For larger particles, keep your eyes open and blink several times. This helps the tears to flush out the particle.
  • If the pain or discomfort continues, it is possible the particle is still there in the eye. In such a case, keep the injured eye(s) closed and meet a doctor immediately.

Puncture caused by objects pricking the eyes directly

  • Do not rub the injured eye(s) or try to rinse with water
  • Do not apply any pressure to the eye as it can increase the damage
  • Do not attempt to remove the object yourself
  • Do not use any anti-inflammatory medications. Most of them contain blood-thinners which will increase bleeding.
  • Cover the injured eye with your palm or wear glasses, until you meet a doctor

Black Eye or eye swelling caused by impact, and accidents

  • Do not apply any pressure on the injured eye(s)
  • Use a cold compress on the eye(s)
  • If the swelling or pain does not subside in a few hours, meet a doctor immediately.

Household or Industrial chemicals
Disinfectants and common household chemicals can also be damaging if they fall into the eyes. So also, if you work at a factory or workshop where you routinely handle chemicals, there is danger from chemicals falling into your eyes, or their vapours getting into your eyes. If such a thing happens:

  • Rinse your eyes with water to flush the chemicals out
  • Do not rub your eye(s) and meet a doctor immediately

Sunburn or exposure to the sun
Continuous exposure to harsh sunlight can cause minor injuries and slight impairment of vision. This can be easily avoided by wearing sunglasses or any protective eyewear while going out in the sun, even if it's cloudy weather. If you suspect your eyes are sunburned,

  • Stay indoors as much as possible for a couple of days
  • Use lubricating eye drops for relief
  • If the impairment doesn't go away, meet a doctor immediately.

Conclusion

Eye injuries can happen a lot easier than you think. In case of an injury, avoid self-medication and consult a doctor immediately. Prevention is better than cure, so take utmost care of your eyes by using protective eyewear. End of the day, remember, you have only one pair of eyes!

Article by Dr. B.S. Anil Chandra, MS (Oph)
Senior Consultant Phaco and Refractive Surgeon
Kauvery Hospital

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