Eye injuries are common among all age groups, but how do you know when you need a doctor? August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, so let’s talk about what to do and NOT to do when an eye injury occurs.
If in Doubt, Call Your Eye Doctor
Among our five senses, we depend on our eyesight the most. So when you or your child experiences eye trauma, it’s natural to feel scared and uncertain. You may not know whether you need an ice pack—or the ER.
Because serious eye injuries are not always apparent, the best rule of thumb is to call your ophthalmologist or go to the nearest emergency room. Being proactive could prevent permanent vision loss.
ID the Nature or Cause of Injury
When an eye accident occurs, it is imperative to react quickly. Look at the injured eye and check for lacerations, bulging, unusual eye movement, or blood in the clear part of the eye. Inspect both pupils to verify that they are equal in size. Uneven pupils can indicate head trauma and a possible concussion.
Call the Ophthalmologist or 911
After you have evaluated the eye, call your eye doctor or 911. Clearly explain the type of eye injury that occurred so you can receive specific instructions.
Most eye injuries fall into one of the following categories:
- Impact (by a ball, fist or another object)
- Puncture (by something sharp or pointed)
- Scratch (corneal abrasion)
- Cut or tear
- Heat burn
- Chemical burn (by household cleaners, insecticides, vapors or fumes)
Know What NOT to Do
It is normal to want to do something to help when an eye injury occurs, especially when your child is hurting. However, you could make the situation worse by trying to intervene. Here are a few things that you should never do after an eye injury:
- Do not try to treat a significant eye injury at home
- Do not rub, press (or even touch) the eye
- Do not try to remove an object that is lodged in the eye
- Do not apply eye drops or ointment
Schedule a Follow-Up Appointment
After you or your child has received medical treatment, contact your eye doctor within the next few days. You may need a follow-up appointment to make sure the eye is healing properly.
It is important to develop a good relationship with a trusted ophthalmologist who you can call in the event of an eye emergency. If you would like to find an ophthalmologist in your local area, use our Find a Physician locator tool.