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Eye Emergencies: What to Do in the Event of an Eye Injury

Updated: Jul 11

A serene day can turn into a moment of panic in the blink of an eye if you or someone you know experiences an eye injury. Whether it's a splash of chemicals, a foreign object lodged in the eye, or a sudden impact, eye emergencies require immediate and appropriate action to prevent lasting damage.

At Rivertown Eye Care in Hastings, MN, our commitment to eye health extends beyond routine care. We're here to guide you through the crucial steps to take in the event of an eye emergency, ensuring that you're prepared to act swiftly and effectively.

Picture of a man with an eye emergency, that  is considering what he should do to take care of it.
What To Do During an Eye Emergency

Understanding Eye Emergencies

Eye emergencies encompass a broad range of incidents, from the seemingly innocuous speck of dust to severe trauma. Common types include:

Chemical Burns:

Exposure to household cleaners, industrial chemicals, or even chlorine in swimming pools.

Foreign Objects:

Anything from a piece of grit to metal shavings can become embedded in the eye.

Blunt Trauma:

Impact from balls, fists, or accidents can cause significant injury.

Cuts and Punctures:

Sharp objects can cause open wounds in or around the eye.

Flash Burns:

Exposure to intense light sources, like welding torches, without proper protection.

Immediate Actions for Eye Injuries

Chemical Burns

1. Rinse Immediately: Flush your eye with clean, lukewarm water or a sterile saline solution for at least 15-20 minutes. Use a steady stream of water and avoid hot water, which can cause further injury.

2. Seek Professional Help: Contact an eye care professional or visit an emergency room after rinsing. Chemical burns can cause severe damage quickly, and professional assessment is crucial.

An eye being rinsed with water after an eye emergency or eye injury
Rinse Eyes Immediately for Chemical Burns

Foreign Objects

1. Do Not Rub: Rubbing can embed the object deeper into your eye or scratch the cornea.

2. Blink and Rinse: Try blinking to see if tears will naturally expel the object. If not, gently rinse your eye with clean water or saline solution.

3. Seek Medical Attention: If the object doesn't come out with rinsing, keep your eye closed and seek immediate medical attention.

a man rubbing his eyes
Do Not Rub Eyes if a Foreign Object is Present

Blunt Trauma

1. Apply a Cold Compress: Use a cold pack or a cloth filled with ice to reduce swelling and bruising. Do not apply pressure to the eye.

2. Monitor for Symptoms: Watch for vision changes, persistent pain, or the appearance of blood in the eye. These symptoms warrant immediate medical evaluation.

Cuts and Punctures

1. Do Not Wash or Remove Anything: Avoid rinsing your eye or trying to remove any objects stuck in it.

2. Shield the Eye: To prevent further damage, cover the eye with a rigid shield, like the bottom half of a paper cup.

3. Seek Immediate Medical Care: Do not attempt to treat these injuries at home. Go straight to an emergency room or an eye specialist.

Flash Burns

1. Stay in a Darkened Room: Minimize light exposure to alleviate pain and sensitivity.

2. Use Artificial Tears: Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops can help relieve discomfort.

3. Consult an Eye Care Professional: If symptoms persist or if you have severe pain, a professional evaluation is necessary.

Preventing Eye Injuries

Prevention is always better than cure, especially regarding your eyes. Here are some tips to avoid common eye injuries:

Wear Protective Eyewear: Always wear appropriate safety glasses or goggles when working with chemicals, tools, or environments that pose potential eye hazards.

Be Cautious with Chemicals: Carefully read labels and use instructions for household chemicals, including cleaning supplies and pesticides.

Guard Against UV Exposure: Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful rays.

Wear the Correct Eyewear for Your Activity: According to the Vision Council, more than 600,000 eye injuries related to sports occur each year, and approximately one-third of these injuries occur in children. Make sure your eyewear is protective and practical for sports, outdoor activities, and play.

a child playing tennis wearing protective sunglasses
Wear Protective Eyewear for Sports & Activity

Rivertown Eye Care: Your Partner in Eye Health

At Rivertown Eye Care, we understand the urgency and anxiety accompanying eye emergencies. Our team is prepared to offer the guidance and care needed to navigate these stressful situations. If you or a loved one experiences an eye injury, don't hesitate to contact us. 

Your vision is invaluable, and we're here to protect it.

Knowing how to respond to eye emergencies can make a significant difference in the outcome of an eye injury. By following the steps outlined above, you can provide essential first aid that may save your sight. Remember, immediate action and professional care are paramount in preventing lasting damage.

Stay informed, stay prepared, and let Rivertown Eye Care be your trusted ally in maintaining optimal eye health.


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