Eye injuries can cause serious vision loss. So, it’s important to treat them seriously and ALWAYS seek prompt medical attention from an eye care professional or – in more extreme cases – the emergency room. If left untreated, eye injuries can become worse and the damage to vision can increase. If you’re in doubt about how severe an eye injury is, err on the side of an emergency room visit. It’s not worth the risk of waiting.
Before you reach an optometrist, opthalmologist, or the ER, here are several things TO DO and several things TO NOT DO if you or someone you know suffers an eye injury:
1. See a Doctor ASAP
Again, there’s no way to stress this enough: eye injuries can cause vision loss. Do not wait. Do not attempt to treat the injury yourself. See a doctor as soon as you can.
2. Lightly Bandage or Shield Your Eye
Different ‘Do This’ items will apply to different types of injuries (which will be noted). For a cut or a foreign object in the eye, it’s helpful to protect the eye while you’re en route to medical attention. In those cases, lightly bandage your eye with a soft material and seek prompt care.
3. Flush With Clean Water** or Eyewash
**In the case of a chemical burn. After which, immediately seek medical attention. For debris or other particles caught in your eye, use eyewash to try to flush the foreign object out. DO NOT do this if your eye is cut or noticeably damaged.
4. Lightly Apply Cold, to Reduce Swelling
If you absorb a blow to the eye, it is appropriate to lightly apply a small cold compress to the affected area. Be careful not to apply any pressure. Still seek immediate medical attention.
Do NOT Do This:
1. Apply Pressure
This can include pressing down on your eye, rubbing your eye, poking at it, or any touching in general. The compulsion to touch an injured area is strong, but eyes are too sensitive to the touch and any added pressure can exacerbate the injury.
2. Use Topical Medication
Ointments, creams, and other products (think Neosporin) can be helpful and beneficial in helping injuries – but not injuries to the eye. The best practice? Don’t put anything into your eye. Let your eye doctor determine what treatment is best.
3. Try to Remove Debris
Aside from flushing with eyewash, do not try to fish out a foreign particle with your fingers. Waiting for the eye doctor or emergency room to take a look pays off. Trying to remove foreign objects can often, inadvertently, cause further injury.
4. Wait and See
‘Wait and see’ can be great advice in many instances. For example, ‘What did you get me for my birthday?’ That’s a question where ‘wait and see’ is an appropriate response. When it comes to an injured eye, it’s never a good idea. If you wait to seek attention for an injured eye, you could be risking your ability to see.
Overall, remember that your eyes are sensitive and an eye injury can be a serious medical emergency. Follow the above Dos and Don’ts, but see your doctor for treatment as soon as possible.