Emergency

Eye Emergencies

An estimated 2.5 million Americans a year get eye injuries. How many of these eye injuries are emergencies? Know when you need to seek emergency medical attention for an eye injury and how you can keep your eyes healthy.

Serious Eye Injuries

Eyelid lacerations are cuts to the eyelid. A seriously cut eyelid will require stitches administered by a emergency medical professional. Your healthcare provider will also need to inspect the eye to assure no damage was done to the eye itself. Prevent eyelid lacerations by:

  • Avoiding dangerous or violent situations
  • Carefully handling sharp objects
  • Only allowing children to play with appropriate toys

Foreign bodies in the eye include any substance or object that is not supposed to be in the eye. This can include usually non-serious substances like dust and dirt, but this can also be dangerous sharp objects and pieces of metal. In this case, go to the nearest emergency department to get it removed. Avoid getting foreign bodies in the eye by:

  • Wearing safety goggles when maintaining your lawn
  • Not applying makeup too close to the eyeball
  • Wearing clean and safe cosmetics
  • Handling fireworks with care
  • Only allowing children to play with appropriate toys

Orbital fractures are broken bones surrounding the eye. For any fracture, you need to go to an emergency department to receive immediate medical treatment. Orbital fractures can cause damage to the eye and needs to be assessed by a medical professional. Prevent orbital fractures by:

  • Wearing appropriate eyewear while playing sports
  • Avoiding dangerous or violent situations
  • Being careful to avoid falls

Chemical burns of the eye occur when dangerous chemicals get in the eye. Chemical burns of the eye can quickly lead to blindness or loss of the eye and needs to be treated in an emergency facility. Household cleaning agents are common chemicals that can get into your eye. Ways you can avoid getting a chemical burn include:

  • Washing your hands after handling household cleaning agents
  • Wearing safety goggles when handling chemicals
  • Not pointing chemical spray bottles at faces
  • Keeping cleaning agents away from children

Non-Emergency Eye Conditions

Non-emergency eye conditions include conjunctivitis, styes, black eyes, and corneal abrasions.

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as “pink eye,” is irritation of the inner lining of the eyelids. Visit your healthcare provider or eye doctor to receive treatment for this condition. Avoid touching your eyes to prevent spreading contagious forms of pink eye.

A stye is an infection on a gland along the edge of your eye. Symptoms include feeling like there is something in your eye, eye redness and pain, sensitivity to bright light, tearing of the eye, and tenderness and swelling of the eyelid. Most styes will heal on their own. You can treat the stye by using a warm, wet cloth compress for 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times a day. You should also wash your hands and face often and avoid touching the area.

Black eyes occur after eye trauma, causing bruising and swelling around the eye. Visit your healthcare provider if you experience non-emergency eye trauma. If you have a black eye, apply cold compresses to the affected area for the first 24 hours and warm compresses after the first 24 hours. Keep your head elevated to reduce swelling.

Corneal abrasions are small scratches to the clear, outermost layer of the eyeball. Most corneal abrasions are mild and only require a trip to an eye doctor.

Keep up with your eye health by scheduling routine eye exams. For any eye emergency, visit your nearest CHI St. Luke’s Health emergency department.

Sources:
Eyelid Lacerations
Foreign Bodies in the Eye
Fractures of the Orbit
Chemical Burns of the Eye
Corneal Abrasions
Avoiding Eye Injury
Eye Protection Critical in Sports
Cosmetic Safety for Adolescent Contact Lens Wearers
Bruising or Black Eye (Ecchymosis)
Eye Conditions
Stye

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