Protect Yourself From Common Eye Injuries
Home is our safe haven. It’s where we go to relax and do the hobbies we enjoy like gardening, woodworking, and DIY home improvement. Yet these activities, while done in the comfort of our homes, are full of dangers that are a major threat to eye safety. The American Academy of Ophthalmology found accidents involving common household products cause 125,000 eye injuries each year. In observance of October being Home Eye Safety Month, our providers have outlined common eye injuries that can happen at home, and guide you through first-aid and important next steps if medical care is needed.
Prevention Can Save Your Sight
Eye injuries can be avoided in as little as 15 seconds, which is the time it takes to put on a pair of safety glasses. Eye protection is essential when working around the home or yard. When using chemicals make sure that you are in a well ventilated area, and always read the manufacturer’s warnings, and always wash your hands after handling chemicals or irritating substances before touching your eyes.
Foreign Objects in Eye
Particles like dust, sand, or sawdust are the most common eye irritant and are mostly itchy and uncomfortable. In some cases, particles in the eye can be more abrasive and result in corneal abrasion, which is a scratch on the transparent layer forming the front of the eye.
If you believe there is a foreign object in your eye, blink your eye several times or pull your upper eyelid over the lower eyelid to increase tear production. Gently rinsing the eye with clean water or sterile saline solution (do not rub the eye while rinsing) can also help flush the particles out.
If you believe that your cornea has been scratched it’s vital that you visit urgent care as soon as possible. A scratched cornea that goes untreated can make your eye susceptible to infection.
Penetrating Foreign Objects in Eye
Any eye injury involving an object penetrating the eye, such as a fish hook or metal shard, absolutely requires an urgent care visit right away.
Do not attempt attempt to remove the object on your own, as a more severe injury is likely to be the result. If the object has sharp edges, is large enough to interfere with closing of your eye, is embedded into the eye, or causing bleeding you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Try loosely taping a paper cup or eye shield to the affected eye to avoid further injury.
Chemical Splash in Eye
Household chemicals are everywhere, from cleaning products to paint. Accidentally getting splashed in the eye with a chemical in your household is another common eye injury. Substances like paint thinner, household cleaners, and even beauty products like nail polish remover can injure your eye. Some chemicals can burn or sting, but end up being pretty harmless in the long run, while others can cause serious injury.
If a chemical substance gets in contact with your eye you should first put your head under a steady stream of warm tap water, and let it run down your face into your eye for about fifteen minutes. You should then call an urgent care center and explain to them the exact chemical your eye was exposed to–they will be able to recommend appropriate care from there.
Bruising or Swelling From Eye Trauma
Being struck in the eye with an object such as a baseball traveling at high speeds can cause eye swelling and bruising. It may be a simple black eye, but to be safe you should seek medical attention to ensure that there is no internal damage. For immediate treatment, apply an ice pack to the affected eye to reduce swelling. An X-ray may be needed to check for possibly broken occipital (eye) or cheek bones.
Other Common Eye Conditions
Eyes that become painful, often gritty-feeling, red, watery, sensitive to light with blurred or decreased vision could be affected by a condition called superficial punctuate keratitis. There are many causes of this condition including infection, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, prolonged contact lens use, and allergy to eye drops, among other causes.
Diagnosis of superficial punctuate keratitis, as with many eye infections and injuries, is based on symptoms and use of a slit lamp, which enables a doctor to examine the eye under magnification. Treatment depends on the diagnosis and may include antibiotic eye drops, or other eye drop preparations.
Any infection of the eye should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. Common infections of the eye include pinkeye (conjunctivitis) and eye infections caused by poor contact lense hygiene. Any changes to the eye including swelling, redness, discharge, or changes in vision should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible as well. Warm or cool compresses can be used to help soothe irritation.
If you or someone in your family should experience an eye injury and you would like attention from a medical provider, call or visit a Michigan Urgent Care clinic near you. Open 365 days a year, with 10 convenient locations, one commitment to care.