Eye emergencies and Injuries: How to keep your eyes safe

Eye emergencies happen. Sudden injury or trauma to the eye can cause damage and is a scary thing to go through. If you have an eye emergency such as a blunt trauma (hit to the eye) or bleeding, contact us or an emergency care professional immediately.

How common are Eye Injuries?

More common than you might think. Here are some statistics about eye injury according to Prevent Blindness:

  • Accidents involving common household products cause 125,000 eye injuries each year.
  • More than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day.
  • Up to 20 percent of work-related eye injuries cause temporary or permanent vision loss.
  • Every 13 minutes, an emergency room treats a sports-related eye injury.
  • More than 40 percent of sports-related eye injuries occur among children ages 14 and younger
What are eye injury symptoms?

Some common symptoms are more minor such as redness, excess tearing, and blurred vision but there are others that require immediate attention. They are:

  • A noticeable change in vision
  • Swelling in the eye
  • Double vision
  • Severe pain
  • Torn eyelid
  • Deep ache around the eye and brow
  • Headache

The Top 5 Causes of Eye Injury

Blunt Eye Trauma

A blow to the eye, from a fist, baseball, stick, puck or any other object is one of the leading causes of injury. More mild injuries lead to a black eye while those that are more severe may cause eye bleeding. According to the American Society of Ocular Trauma forty percent of eye injuries are sports related.

Cornea Cut or Scratch

This is the most common eye injury and is known as a corneal abrasion. It occurs when a stick, fingernail, or other object scratches the delicate cornea of your eye. It’s important not to rub your eye and to contact our office immediately. While some scratches resolve on their own, others can cause permanent damage to the delicate cornea. Scratches may cause:

  • Blurred vision
  • Redness
  • Excess tearing
  • Light sensitivity
  • Pain

Object in the Eye

Foreign objects such as a piece of metal, sliver of wood, sand and glass can damage the eye. A sharp object inside your eye can scratch or cut your cornea and requires immediate attention. Do not rub your eye if this happens and contact us or medical personnel for immediate attention.

Though this type of injury is common at construction sites or workplaces commonly exposed to these kinds of materials it’s important to note that the average worker is actually safer than the average person at home since they are more likely to be wearing protective eyewear. According to Prevent Blindness, 90 percent of eye injuries are preventable with the use of appropriate safety eyewear!

Chemical Burns

If you think this type of eye injury only happens in industrial or workplace settings you wouldn’t be alone, but you’d be mistaken. Everyday items such as soap, shampoo, or makeup can cause injury and nearly half of all eye traumas occur at home. If a personal care item such as soap enters the eye you can in most cases flush your eyes with water and they will return to normal, but every day household items such as cleaners and bleach pose a more serious threat and can cause damage if they splash into the eye. The most serious chemicals are alkali based and cause severe immediate damage and sometimes blindness. They are:

  • Oven cleaners
  • Drain cleaners
  • Fertilizers

The extent of the injury depends on the chemical, how long it’s in the eye, and how deep inside it went. The best way to treat a chemical burn is to flush out the eye with cool water for at least 15 minutes then get medical help immediately.

UV Radiation

The sun’s rays can burn your eyes, just like they can burn your skin. Signs that you’ve been exposed to too much UV radiation are red eyes, light sensitivity, tearing, and a feeling like there is something is in your eyes. Since these symptoms are also indicative of other conditions such as dry eye, it’s best to make an appointment to be evaluated.Again, wear protective eyewear, such as sunglasses that block out both UVA and UVB rays. Over time, exposure to UV radiation can increase your chances of developing cataracts or macular degeneration.

Eye bleeding or Hyphema

The most common cause of hyphema (eye bleeding) is trauma to the eye, though it does on occasion occur after eye surgery. Spontaneous or sudden hyphema may occur if you are taking blood thinners (such as warfarin or aspirin) or have a blood clotting disorder (haemophilia). Diabetes and tumour growth in the eye (ocular melanoma) can increase the risk of a spontaneous hyphema. Usually, the blood will be reabsorbed by the body without any permanent damage to the eye. In some cases, clotting will clog or damage the chamber that controls the outflow from the eye causing increased eye pressure leading to glaucoma and permanent vision loss.

Contact us if you are experiencing eye bleeding to find out if it will resolve on its own or requires intervention.

We are experienced in diagnosing and managing acute ocular emergency cases.

Call our Toronto optometrist office today if you need help.

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