One of the five senses that humans rely on is sight. The eyes are the primary organs of the visual system and can be more sensitive than other organs of the human body. Eye injuries can be extremely serious and life-threatening. Some of these injuries can be treated at home, but others require emergency medical attention. If you have an eye injury, it is crucial to know when to go to the ER.
Kinds of Eye Injuries
If you have a foreign object or chemicals in your eye, or if your eye area has been injured or burned, you have an eye emergency and need to head to the ER. The risk of permanent injury can result from a number of injury types.
When cleaning materials, garden chemicals, or industrial chemicals get into your eyes, they cause chemical burns. Aerosols and fumes can also cause burns in your eyes. If you get acid in your eye, you have an excellent prognosis if you treat it right away. On the other hand, alkaline products, such as drain cleaners, sodium hydroxide, lye, or lime, might irreversibly harm your cornea. (Pietrangelo, 2018)
Foreign objects in the eye
If something goes into your eye, it can cause vision loss or injury. Even a small amount of sand or dust can irritate your eye surface. High-speed entry of glass, metal, or other items into your eye can cause catastrophic harm. If anything gets trapped in your eye, don’t try to remove it. Don’t touch it, don’t press on it, and don’t try to remove it. This is a medical emergency, and you should get assistance as soon as possible. (Pietrangelo, 2018)
Sustaining a black eye
When something hits your eye or the area around it, you usually acquire a black eye. The darkening associated with a black eye is caused by bleeding beneath the surface. A black eye will usually start out black and blue, then turn purple, green, and yellow over the course of a few days. Swelling can sometimes accompany black eyes. A strike to the eye can cause damage to the inside of the eye. Therefore, if you have a black eye, you should consult your doctor.
Scratches and cuts
If you have a cut or scratch on your eyeball or eyelid, you should seek medical attention at once. While you wait for medical attention, you can use a loose bandage, but avoid putting pressure on the wound. (Pietrangelo, 2018)
Symptoms of an Eye Injury
If you or someone you know has one of these eye injuries, get medical attention immediately. The warning indicators of a major eye injury are an eye ache that isn’t going away, having difficulty seeing, an eyelid that has been cut or torn, one eye moving slower than the other, one eye protruding further from the socket than the other, the pupil of the eye being unusually large or shaped, blood in the clear area of the eye, and something being stuck in the person’s eye or under the eyelid that tears and blinking can’t get rid of. (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2022)
Emergency Care for Eye Injuries
Do not attempt to remove an object that has penetrated your eye or eyelid if you have cut or punctured your eye or eyelid. Cover the eye with a stiff shield, such as the bottom half of a paper cup, and seek medical attention as soon as possible. If chemicals get into your eye, rinse it out for 15 minutes with a saline solution (ideally) or water. If you’re wearing contacts, remove your lenses first. Do not rub your eyes and consult a doctor if the chemicals are still not flushed out. (McCarthy, 2022)
Don’t risk permanent damage with eye injuries. If you have any questions about eye injuries or whether you should go to the ER, consider the information presented here and take appropriate action.
Pietrangelo, Ann. “Eye Emergencies: Types, Symptoms, and Prevention.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 29 Sept. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/eye-emergencies.
“Recognizing and Treating Eye Injuries.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2 Mar. 2022, www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/injuries.
McCarthy, Cathleen. “Eye Care: Emergencies That Require an Eye Doctor.” All About Vision, All About Vision, 15 Mar. 2022, www.allaboutvision.com/eye-care/emergencies-injuries-infections/.