Common Eye Injuries and How to Prevent Them

October is Eye Injury Prevention Month, and there’s no better time of year to think about some common eye injuries and how to avoid them. Eye injuries, even minor ones, can be serious if they’re not dealt with properly. That’s why eye trauma prevention is always the best course of action. 

If you’ve experienced visual impairment because of an eye injury, VIA is your trusted resource for help. Our mission is to help guide patients through vision loss and to give them back their confidence and independence to enjoy a high quality of life. If you’re experiencing visual impairment or know someone who is, get in touch with the vision rehabilitation experts at VIA.  

If you or someone you know has suffered an eye injury, contact your ophthalmologist or eye care provider immediately for medical help. Getting care from a trained provider—as quickly as possible—is the best way to get proper treatment and make a full recovery when an eye injury does occur. 

Read on to learn more about some common eye injuries and their symptoms, as well as how these injuries happen and the ways you can prevent them. 

What Are the Most Common Eye Injuries? 

Some types of eye injuries are more common than others. These are injuries that could happen to anyone during the course of a normal day—we’re not including eye disorders or degenerative conditions that could affect eye health or cause visual impairment.  

Here are some of the most common eye injuries you might come across: 

Corneal Abrasion 

The cornea is the transparent area at the very front of the eyeball. It’s easy for this surface to get scratched, perhaps by a fingernail, contact lens, or a small foreign object. A scratch or abrasion on the cornea can cause the eye to water, and the person will probably experience some pain and perhaps sensitivity to light. 

If you think that you or someone you know has a corneal abrasion, see your ophthalmologist or eye care provider.  

Black Eye 

Most of us know what a black eye looks like. It’s one of the most common eye injuries out there. Some kind of blow or trauma to the eye causes bruising and swelling at the eye itself and the tissues around it, resulting in pain and even some vision loss if the problem is serious enough. It’s possible for the eyelid to be cut as well.  

Even if you think a black eye isn’t that serious, it’s best to get in touch with your eye care provider or ophthalmologist to have it examined. It’s the best way to ensure there are no complications moving forward.  

Bleeding in the Eye 

There are two main types of bleeding that can occur in the eye. A surface hemorrhage happens when there is trauma to the eye or when a person strains too hard (perhaps during a cough). A subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs below the surface of the eye; blood could appear in the conjunctiva, which covers the sclera (the white part of the eye), or it can pool between the cornea and the iris.  

Contact your ophthalmologist or eye care provider immediately if you see bleeding in the eye.  

Foreign Object in the Eye 

Dirt, dust, bits of plastic or glass, fingernails… there are plenty of common items that can end up in the eye and cause injury. This differs from a corneal abrasion in that the object remains lodged in the eye, causing continuous pain and vision problems. Contact lenses can even cause trouble if they’re kept in the eye for too long. 

It’s also possible for chemicals or other foreign substances to get into the eye by accident, perhaps when you’re cleaning or using chemical products at your job.  

When a foreign object gets lodged in your eye or in the eye of a loved one, let your ophthalmologist or eye care provider know right away. You’ll want a professional’s help to treat the injury and recover.  

Eye Socket Fracture 

Blunt force to the bones that support the eye can cause an eye socket fracture. This can happen if an object strikes the eye. In addition to the breaking of the bones of the eye socket, the muscles and tissues surrounding and supporting the eyes can tear or stretch. 

Tell your ophthalmologist or eye care provider immediately when you or someone you know has experienced blunt force to the eye.  

Retinal Detachment 

When the retina (a thin tissue at the back of the eyeball) pulls away from the wall of the eye, it’s known as a retinal detachment. This can occur because of eye trauma or because of advanced age, and it can cause visual impairment and vision loss if not dealt with. You’ll want your ophthalmologist or eye care provider’s help to deal with this issue, so notify them as soon as you sense something is wrong. 

What Are the Symptoms of Eye Injuries? 

As you can imagine, the exact symptoms of an eye injury will vary depending on the injury itself. Some symptoms appear right away, and some might develop over time. However, there are some common eye injury symptoms to be aware of. They include: 

  • Bruising and redness in and around the eye 
  • Pain and swelling in and around the eye 
  • Changes in vision – partial or total loss, double vision, blurry vision, etc. 
  • Bleeding in or around the eye 
  • Changes in appearance – an eye may protrude from the eye socket or be sunken into it, pupils may be different sizes, etc.  

If you notice symptoms like these in yourself or in a loved one, it’s time to call your doctor. Immediate medical care might be necessary to avoid further complications or vision loss. Depending on the injury, the patient may need vision rehabilitation with an organization like VIA.  

How Do Common Eye Injuries Occur? 

There are all sorts of ways that eye injuries like those described above can happen. Still, most common eye injuries fall into a few general categories.  

Most eye injuries are caused by accidents. Trauma from blunt objects or sharp objects, car accidents, exposure to chemicals while cleaning or organizing, getting something in the eye while completing a home renovation project… the list goes on. Workplace hazards are another common cause, especially for people who work hands-on with chemicals, mechanical equipment, or heavy equipment.  

Sports players are also at risk for the common eye injuries listed above, especially those that play contact sports. It’s easy for an elbow to strike you in the face, or a flying ball to connect with your eye.  

Last but not least, strain is another way that eye injuries occur, especially bleeding in the eye. You might strain from coughing, vomiting, or lifting a heavy object, and that can put pressure on your eye that leads to bleeding. 

How Can Eye Injuries Be Prevented? 

It goes without saying that you would prefer to avoid the eye injuries described above if at all possible, rather than deal with them after the fact. Prevention is always a better option than treatment. Luckily, there are easy ways to help yourself and your loved ones avoid most common eye injuries.  

Use Protective Goggles 

Wearing protective eyewear like safety goggles is the number-one way to prevent eye injuries. If you’re doing anything that might expose you to hazards including flying particles, objects, or anything else that could cause harm, putting on a pair of safety glasses is always recommended. Whether you’re playing a contact sport or working with hazardous materials at your job or for a home project, this simple step can help avoid eye trauma and potential vision loss caused by an accident.  

Stay Away From Flying Debris 

Flying objects or particles can easily get lodged in the eye and cause injury and partial or total vision loss. Stay away from flying debris whenever you can. And remember to put on a pair of safety goggles if you know you’ll be around flying debris, like when you’re using the lawnmower or cutting wood with a power saw.  

Store Dangerous Chemicals Out of Reach 

Paint thinner, fertilizer, chlorine for the pool… there are all sorts of hazardous chemicals and other substances that could cause real damage if they make their way into the eye. Be careful when using chemicals of any kind, and store these materials safely where they can’t be knocked down into the face. It’s also important to keep such products away from children, who may not be aware of the danger.  

Be Careful When Cooking 

It’s easy for hot grease, boiling water, or other materials to splash up into your face while cooking. Be careful in the kitchen, because it’s easy for liquids, foreign objects, and sharp items to cause eye injury when you’re cooking a meal. Even kitchen utensils can cause injury to the eye when used improperly. It’s best to keep children and pets out of the kitchen during meal preparation, too, just to be extra careful.  

Use Caution With Fireworks 

Using backyard fireworks improperly is another leading cause of eye injury, especially around the Fourth of July holiday and during other celebrations where fireworks might be used. Follow the directions carefully if you’re setting off fireworks on your property, and wear safety goggles for an added layer of safety. Or, forgo the fireworks entirely and leave it to the professionals.  

Use Laser Pointers Properly 

When a laser pointer is shone directly into someone’s eye, it can cause retinal damage. That’s why it’s important to be careful with laser lights and pointers, especially around children. Never point or shine a laser light directly at someone’s face.  

At the end of the day, using common sense and taking precautions ahead of time when you know you’ll be doing something risky is the best way to prevent eye injuries. And looking out for others around you, especially young children, is the best way to keep others safe as well. It’s important during Eye Injury Prevention Month and all year round. 

Trust VIA’s Vision Rehabilitation Services 

VIA provides comprehensive services to help those dealing with vision loss of any level, at any age. While eye injuries should always be dealt with by trained ophthalmologists or other eye-care providers, we can help individuals who have suffered vision loss as a result of those injuries maintain a high quality of life.  

Low Vision Clinic 

Our Low Vision Clinic helps patients with diminished vision see their very best and learn to live well, even with low vision. Our goal is to maximize independence, safety, and quality of life following vision loss.  

Vision Rehab Services 

Our vision rehabilitation services encompass a wide range of professional services to help restore function after vision loss. From Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) to our team of Orientation and Mobility (O&M) instructors, our rehabilitation services are designed to help you do almost everything you did before vision loss; you’ll just do it a little differently. 

Workforce Development 

Returning to work is a big concern for many with vision loss. Our Workforce Development services can help. We offer services relating to job retention, career exploration, work skills development, and more. 

VIA Can Help With Vision Loss Rehabilitation 

Vision rehabilitation might be needed for patients who have suffered permanent partial or total vision loss from eye injuries like those described above. That’s where VIA comes in. While VIA does not treat eye injuries directly, we help patients navigate their visual impairments and adapt to vision loss moving forward. 

VIA has provided vision rehabilitation and social services to the community of Western New York for more than 100 years. Our team of vision professionals offers customized services to help manage your vision loss and adapt to new ways of independence, ultimately improving quality of life.  

Are you or someone you love suffering from vision loss? Trust the vision rehabilitation experts at VIA. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help.  

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