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Things To Know About Eye Injuries

Written by Dr. Stefanenko Irina Borisovna on Fri, 11 November 2022

Key Highlights

  • Protecting eyes with the right gear and precautions can prevent eye injuries. 
  • Eye injuries can be caused by playing sports, chemicals, accidents, and strain. 
  • Eye injuries include bruises, punctures, and scratches.
  • Types of eye injuries include black eye, bleeding, cuts, burns, irritation, etc.
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The eyes are the organs that help you to see. 

Light reaches the retina at the back of your eye, and the retina changes the images into electrical impulses or signals. 

The optic nerve transfers these signals to the part of your brain that’s responsible for vision. Your brain then interprets what you have seen. 

The eyes are delicate organs that may be prone to disorders like infections or eye injuries which may hamper their proper functioning.

What are eye injuries?

When your eye is hurt due to bruises, scratches, or any kind of an accident, it is said to have been injured. 

Eye injuries may include bruises, scratches, and punctures and can result from various events such as accidents, falls, fights, playing sports, etc. 

You cannot always tell if your eye is injured or not. Sometimes, the problem is visible only after it becomes serious like a detached retina. It is important to have an ophthalmologist check your eyes immediately upon noticing any irregularities in your eyes.

What are the different types of eye injuries?

Depending upon the extent of damage done to the eyes, eye injuries may range from mild to severe. 

Some of the most common eye injuries include:

1. Black eye

  • It is a bruise to the eye and is also called a “shiner”. When an object strikes the eye, the force of the impact breaks delicate blood vessels in the eyelids and surrounding tissues. Blood collects under the skin, and causes black or blue discoloration in the eyelids and around the eye socket. 
  • Because the skin around the eye is relatively thin and transparent compared to skin in other parts of the body, the black and blue color of a bruised eye may seem darker and more intense than bruises elsewhere. 
  • The area around the eye is bruised, swollen and painful. The eyelid may also be cut. The swelling can interfere with vision.

2. Bleeding in the eye

  • An eye surface hemorrhage (bleeding) can result from straining too hard (such as during a cough) or from trauma to the eye. 
  • A subconjunctival hemorrhage happens when the blood appears in the clear skin part of the eye (the conjunctiva) that covers the white part (the sclera).
  • Blood can also pool between the cornea and the iris (the clear transparent part of the eye and the colored part). This bleeding is called a hyphema.

3. Burns and irritation

  • Burns to the eye are most often a result of being in contact with strong acids or alkalis which are amongst the most urgent of ophthalmic emergencies.
  • They may be caused by acid, alkali, radiant energy (thermal or ultraviolet), fumes, or other irritants. These can burn or damage the eye, leading to vision loss. Most of these injuries are industrial.

4. Corneal abrasion

  • Foreign objects, fingernails, contact lenses, and other items can lead to a scratched cornea. The cornea is the clear transparent area on the front of the eye. Corneal abrasions cause pain, sensitivity to light, and eye-watering.

5. Injury from a foreign object

  • When something lodges in the eye, vision problems, and eye pain can result.
  • The most common foreign objects in the eye include dirt or debris, sawdust, or shattered glass. 
  • Contact lenses can cause eye injuries when they stay in the eye too long.

6. Orbital (eye socket) fractures

  • Trauma or blunt force to the bones surrounding the eye can cause a fracture. Orbital fractures usually happen when an object or fist hits the eye. 
  • In an orbital blowout fracture, bones inside the eye socket shatter. The muscles that support the eyes can stretch, tear or become trapped. 
  • Children are especially susceptible to this.

7. Retinal detachment

  • A detached retina can cause permanent vision loss. 
  • It usually results from age-related changes or trauma to the eye. 
  • It happens when the retina (thin tissue on the back of the eye) pulls away from the wall of the eye.

What can cause eye injuries

Common causes of eye injuries include:

  • causes eye injuriesPunches that may occur in contact sports like basketball
  • Accidents of cars where splattered glass can damage the eyes or kitchen accidents where hot liquids may splash in the eyes
  • Blows from hands, balls, or other sports equipment
  • Flying pieces of material from explosions or industrial work
  • Flying objects like bullets, darts, fireworks, and bungee cords
  • Chemical splashes
  • Protests or urban warfare

Signs and symptoms associated with eye injuries

The symptoms of eye injuries vary with the type of injury and may appear suddenly or develop gradually. 

The common signs seen in eye injuries include:

  • symptoms of eye injuriesPain and swelling: Your eye may hurt, especially when you try to open, close, or move it. The eye may be sensitive to touch. Swelling can affect the eyeball, eyelid, or entire face.
  • Bruising and redness: Any part of the eye may appear red or bruised.
  • Vision changes: You may see floating black spots or flashes of light (floaters and flashes). In addition to eye floaters, you may notice blurry or double vision and other vision problems.
  • Problems with eye movement: You may not be able to move your eyes easily. One eye may move independently from the other.
  • Changes in eye appearance: One eye may look crossed (strabismus). The pupils may be different sizes or unusually large or small. One eye may protrude (stick out) from the eye socket more than the other one or look sunken.
  • Bleeding: The white part of the eye may look bright red, or you might see small red or black spots in the eye. A red eye can be a sign of an eye injury or several other health conditions.

How do eye injuries affect the quality of life

Ocular trauma especially due to penetrating injuries is the most common cause of visual loss and impairment. Mostly, young people suffer these kinds of injuries. These injuries not only affect visual ability but also impact social and occupational functions. 

Patients suffering vision loss due to such injuries cannot continue with their present occupation and may need to change it or obtain disability status. These patients have increased psychological symptoms and a lower quality of life than healthy individuals.

How are eye injuries treated

Treating minor eye injuriesIn case of an eye injury, you should immediately call for help and visit an ophthalmologist. 

Treatment depends on the type and severity of the eye injury. Serious injuries may require surgery.

In general, when you have an eye injury, do not try to cure it on your own. 

  • Do not rub your eyes, or put pressure on them. 
  • Do not try to pluck any stuck particles from your eyes. 
  • Do not take drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs thin the blood and may increase bleeding.

How can you prevent eye injuries?

Most eye injuries can be prevented by planning and wearing the right equipment. To avoid an eye injury, you should:

1. Wear protective glasses or goggles

  • Eye protection is especially important during sports or activities that put you at a higher risk of an eye injury. 
  • Wear appropriate eye protection when using chemicals, doing yard work, sawing wood, using power tools, or even while doing housework. Debris can easily get into your eyes and cause problems ranging from irritation to serious damage.

2. Store chemicals safely

  • Place detergents, cleaners, bleach, and other chemicals out of reach of children. 
  • Protect your eyes when using cleaning products. 
  • Read the labels of cleaning supplies and other chemicals very carefully before using them. Don't mix any of the products.

3. Be careful with fireworks

  • Only adults should handle fireworks. 
  • Read labels carefully, and always wear eye protection. 
  • In many countries, there are provisions to go and see a professional fireworks show where you can enjoy them and need not participate on your own in bursting the fireworks. 

4. Never play with laser pointers

  • Don’t aim a laser pointer at anyone’s eyes, and never let your children play with them.

5. Be careful when cooking or using hot objects

  • Use grease shields to prevent the splattering of hot grease or oil. Keep a safe distance from open flames. Avoid using a curling iron near your eyes.

6. Don’t let curiosity get the best of you

  • Never look directly at a firework, bottle cork, or other explosive or projectile device if it doesn’t go off as expected. 
  • Dispose of the object in question in a safe place rather than inspecting it closely or studying it with your face in harm’s way. These objects tend to discharge unexpectedly after a delay. Eyes are often damaged in the process.

Conclusion

The eyes are the organs that help us see. They perform many functions to enable our vision but are delicate. 

However, eye injuries may occur due to many activities like playing sports, using tools, handling chemical and hot substances, etc. Injuries to the eyes can be mild to severe ones and can damage the vision making you blind.

Using protective eyeglasses, carefully handling chemicals, placing dangerous chemicals and cleaners in a safe place, and bursting firecrackers only with care and adult supervision can help keep your eyes safe from eye injuries.

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Dr. Stefanenko Irina Borisovna

Dr. Stefanenko Irina Borisovna Is a medical doctor based out of Ukraine. Dr. Borisovna graduated from the Vinnitsa State Medical University, in 1995. In between 1995-2000, Dr. Borisovna went on to further pursue her post graduation studying scientific activity from the Vinnytsa Medical University in Ukraine.

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  2. Eye injuries available from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16988-eye-injuries
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