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How do I Care for an Eye Wound?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 17, 2024
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The type of care needed for an eye wound depends on the kind of injury involved. Any injury that penetrates the eye should be treated only by a doctor, and no attempts to wash the eye or remove the object should be made. If the wound was caused by an irritating chemical, the eye should be washed by running it under slightly warm water. Injuries to the general area of the eye resulting in bruising or fractures should be treated with an ice pack if possible, but a doctor should be consulted to ensure that no internal damage has occurred. Essentially, any eye wound has the potential to be more dangerous than it seems, and as blindness is a serious disability, any remotely serious injury should be treated by a medical professional.

Objects in the eye are generally considered very serious. If the foreign matter is not penetrating the eye, then gently flushing the eye may remove the object. Scratches may occur if anything is used to wipe the object out of the eye, so it is generally better to only use water.

Any lacerations or punctures on the eye should be protected and the victim should be rushed to the hospital. A good strategy for protecting the eye is to gently cover it with a small cup, which will prevent anything from hitting a protruding foreign object. The injured person should not take aspirin for such an eye wound because this will increase the risk of bleeding.

Chemical eye wounds should be treated by running the eye under water for at least 20 minutes. Saline solution is acceptable for rinsing eye wounds, if it is available. As many chemicals that are dangerous for eyes are also dangerous for skin, the shower may be the best place to get all of the substance off at once. It is important, though, that no matter what rinsing method is used, the eyelid is kept open for maximum exposure.

An injury to the eye by an object such as a ball, fist, or bat, where the eye itself has been protected is best treated by keeping the head elevated and the eye iced. There may be complications such as fracture or swelling, but if the injury is minor, it can usually be treated at home. It is important to watch for signs of altered consciousness. If symptoms become serious, a trip to a medical facility is recommended.

Caring for an eye wound after the initial treatment has been accomplished is usually only difficult because the eye cannot be touched or rubbed. The hospital or doctor's office that treated the wound will usually provide precise instructions for caring for the wound. Usually, someone can expect to take extra precautions to protect the eye, and sometimes to clean the site of the injury. With prompt treatment, many people make a full recovery from even a serious eye wound.

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