Eye Injuries. The Eyes The eyes are sophisticated organs. They collect light and focus it on the back of the eye, allowing us to see.

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1 Eye Injuries Introduction The design of your face helps protect your eyes from injury. But injuries can still damage your eyes. Sometimes injuries are severe enough that you could lose your vision. Most eye injuries are preventable. If you play sports or work in certain jobs, you may need eye protection. This reference summary explains eye injuries. It discusses common symptoms of different types of eye injuries, as well as treatment options. The Eyes The eyes are sophisticated organs. They collect light and focus it on the back of the eye, allowing us to see. The cornea is the front, transparent part of the eye. It allows light to enter the eye. The rest of the eye is covered with an outer layer called the sclera. An extra layer called the conjunctiva covers the front part of the eye. Light hits the iris, which is the colored part of the eye. The opening in the middle of the iris is called the pupil. The iris controls the amount of light that enters the eye by changing the size of the pupil. As light passes through the pupil, it goes through a clear lens. The lens of the eye acts like the lens of a camera. It focuses light onto the back of the eye. The capsule holds the lens in place. 1

2 After passing through the lens and before reaching the back of the eye, light rays travel through a transparent substance called vitreous. The back of the eye is called the retina. The retina changes light signals into electrical signals. These electrical signals are sent through the optic nerve to the brain. The brain translates these signals into the images we see. The structure of the face and eyes protects the eyes from injury. The eyeballs are set into the orbits. The orbit is a socket surrounded by a bony ridge. The eyelids also protect the eyes. They close quickly to prevent foreign objects from entering. General Symptoms Symptoms of eye injuries can vary widely. The most common symptoms of an eye injury are eye pain and trouble seeing. Other common symptoms of eye injuries include: An unusual pupil size or shape. Blood in the white part of the eye. One eye not moving as well as the other eye. One eye sticking out compared to the other eye. Some eye injuries may also cause: A cut or bloody eyelid. Drainage from the eye. Feeling of something in the eye. Sensitivity to bright light. If you notice any of these symptoms or other changes, talk to your health care provider. Black Eye and Blunt Injuries A blunt impact may damage the structures at the front or back of the eye. It may also break the bones that surround the eye. Tissues in or around the eye may be cut or scraped. A blunt impact can happen when the body is physically attacked. One example of a blunt impact would be getting punched in the eye. 2

3 Injured eyes may be swollen and difficult to open. Blood may leak into the skin of the eyelid and surrounding areas, causing bruising that is commonly called a black eye. A black eye does not affect vision. But other injuries that happen with a black eye can be serious. Black eyes get better without treatment after a few days or weeks. Ice packs may help reduce swelling and pain for the first 24 to 48 hours. Over-the-counter pain medicine can also help. But people who have bleeding in the eye should avoid some of these medicines. Certain over-thecounter pain medicines may worsen bleeding. A blunt impact may cause a blood vessel on the conjunctiva to break. If a blood vessels breaks, it can cause blood to pool over the white of the eye. This is called a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Although it looks serious, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is minor. It resolves on its own without treatment within 1 to 2 weeks. A hyphema may also happen due to a blunt force. A hyphema is bleeding in the front chamber of the eye, between the cornea and iris. It can cause partial or complete loss of vision that is permanent. Treatment usually involves bed rest with the head of the bed elevated. Eye drops may help reduce inflammation and help the eye to heal. A protective shield may be taped over the eye to prevent further injury. Rarely, surgery is needed to drain the blood. Blunt injury may cause retinal detachment. A retinal detachment lifts or pulls the retina from its normal position. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency. If not treated quickly, it can cause permanent vision loss. Retinal detachment can be treated with surgery, lasers or other therapies. Treatment reattaches the retina or prevents the injury from getting worse. Other complications of blunt injuries that can cause vision loss include: Bleeding in the back of the eye. Dislocation of the lens. Tearing of the iris. The amount of force needed to cause these injuries is high. 3

4 Corneal Abrasions and Foreign Bodies The most common type of eye injury happens when something irritates the outer surface of your eye. These injuries include: Foreign bodies, or objects, in the cornea. Scratches, or abrasions, to the cornea. Foreign bodies in the cornea leave behind abrasions after they are removed. Luckily, most of these injuries are minor. Particles and foreign bodies can be spread through the air by: Explosions. Wind. Working with tools. Certain jobs make this type of eye injury more likely. These jobs can include industrial jobs and carpentry. Corneal abrasions are also more likely if you wear contact lenses. Contact lenses can cause scratches when the lenses: Are forcefully removed from the eye. Are not cleaned properly before insertion. Are worn for too long or when the eyes are dry. Do not fit properly. Most corneal abrasions heal without a problem. Even large abrasions often heal in 1 to 3 days. Your health care provider will remove any remaining foreign bodies in the eye. Antibiotic ointment may be given to prevent infections after a corneal abrasion. Eye drops may also be given. Other injuries to the eye include sharp objects that penetrate the eye. BB pellets, nails and other sharp objects could pierce the eye and lead to significant vision problems. Medical treatment is urgently needed in these cases. 4

5 Chemical or Heat Injuries Chemicals and heat can burn your eyes. The most dangerous chemical burns involve strong acids or alkali. Lye is an alkali substance that is found in many drain cleaners. Burns may involve: Liquids, which may splash into the eyes. Powdered material, which can blow into the eyes. Severe chemical burns of the cornea can lead to: Scarring. Perforation of the eye. Blindness. With chemicals, the pain may cause you to close your eyes. This traps the irritant next to the eye and may cause more damage. If your eye is exposed to chemicals, you should wash out your eye right away while you wait for medical help. Treatment includes flushing or irrigating the eye with water or saline. The eye may need to be continuously irrigated for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Your health care provider may use a special irrigating device. This device looks like a large contact lens. It is placed under the eyelids and lets saline drip continuously into the eye. If the cornea is burned, antibiotic ointment may be given. This can help prevent infection while the eye heals. Some chemical burns are so severe that even the best treatment cannot prevent blindness. Thermal burns, or heat burns, may also affect the cornea. But these are less common. The eyelids close in response to heat. These burns are also treated with antibiotic ointment. Prevention Wearing protective eyewear will prevent 90 percent of eye injuries. Make sure that your home has at least one pair of protective eyewear available. 5

6 Never mix chemicals or cleaners. Always read the labels of these products carefully and follow their instructions for proper use. Make sure all rugs and railings are secure to prevent falling and injuring your eye. Cushion sharp corners or edges of furniture. This is especially important if you have children in your house. Keep all tools in good condition. Damaged tools should be fixed or replaced. Before using a spray nozzle, make sure it is directed away from you. To protect your eyes from grease splatters, use grease shields on frying pans. Remove potentially dangerous debris from outdoor areas. Know any eye safety dangers at work and use proper eye protection when needed. Summary The design of your face helps protect your eyes from injury. But injuries can still damage your eyes. Sometimes injuries are severe enough that you could lose your vision. This program covered common eye injuries, including: Black eye and blunt injuries. Corneal abrasions and foreign bodies. Chemical or heat injuries. Symptoms of eye injuries can vary widely. The most common symptoms of an eye injury are eye pain and trouble seeing. Other common symptoms of eye injuries include: An unusual pupil size or shape. Blood in the white part of the eye. One eye not moving as well or sticking out. Most eye injuries are preventable. If you play sports or work in certain jobs, you may need eye protection. Wearing protective eyewear will prevent 90 percent of eye injuries. 6

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