Eye Injuries - Topic Overview
It's common for a speck of dirt to get blown
into your eye, for soap to wash into your eye, or for you to accidentally bump
your eye. For these types of minor eye injuries, home treatment is usually all
that is needed.
See a picture of the
Some sports and recreational
activities increase the risk of eye injuries.
- Very high-risk sports include boxing, wrestling,
and martial arts.
- High-risk sports include baseball, football,
tennis, fencing, and squash.
- Low-risk sports include swimming and
gymnastics (no body contact or use of a ball, bat, or racquet).
Direct blows to the eye can damage
the skin and other tissues around the eye, the eyeball, or the bones of the eye
socket. Blows to the eye often cause bruising around the eye (black eye) or
cuts to the eyelid. If a blow to the eye or a
cut to the eyelid occurred during an accident, be sure to check for injuries to
the eyeball itself and for other injuries, especially to the head or face.
Concern about an eye injury may cause you to miss other injuries that need
Burns to the eye may be caused by
chemicals, fumes, hot air or steam, sunlight, tanning lamps, electric hair
curlers or dryers, or welding equipment. Bursts of flames or flash fires from
stoves or explosives can also burn the face and eyes.
- Chemical burns can occur if a solid chemical,
liquid chemical, or chemical fumes get into the eye. Many substances will not
cause damage if they are flushed out of the eye quickly.
Acids (such as bleach or battery acid) and
alkali substances (such as oven cleansers or fertilizers) can damage the eye. It may take 24
hours after the burn to determine the seriousness of an eye burn. Chemical
fumes and vapors can also irritate the eyes.
- Flash burns to the cornea can occur from a source of radiation like the sun or lights. Bright sunlight
(especially when the sun is reflecting off snow or water) can burn your eyes if
you don't wear sunglasses that filter out ultraviolet (UV) light. Eyes that
are not protected by a mask can be burned by exposure to the high-intensity
light of a welder's equipment (torch or arc). The eyes also may be injured by
other bright lights, such as from tanning booths or sunlamps.
For more information, see the topic
Burns to the Eye.
A foreign object in the
eye, such as dirt, an eyelash, a contact lens, or makeup, can cause eye
- Objects may scratch the surface of the eye
(cornea) or become stuck on the eye. If the
cornea is scratched, it can be hard to tell whether
the object has been removed, because a scratched cornea may feel painful and as
though something is still in the eye. Most corneal scratches are minor and heal
on their own in 1 or 2 days.
- Small or sharp objects traveling at
high speeds can cause serious injury to many parts of the eyeball. Objects
flying from a lawn mower, grinding wheel, or any tool may strike the eye and
possibly puncture the eyeball. Injury may cause bleeding between the iris and
cornea (hyphema), a
change in the size or shape of the pupil, or damage to
the structures inside the eyeball. These objects may be deep in the eye and may
require medical treatment.