Published: Saturday 13 October 2018

There are many ways in which eye injuries can happen. Thankfully most are fairly minor and can be treated easily. Here we look at some of the common causes of eye injuries and how you should deal with them.

What can cause an eye injury?

  • Grit, dust or similar going into the eye
  • A scratch or abrasion - maybe from a fingernail or plant leaves
  • A blow to the eye, where the patient has been hit by a body part, ball or toy
  • A cut from glass or another similar material
  • A chemical burn, often from a household cleaning product
  • Exposure to the sun

How do I treat these injuries?

If grit or dust has entered the eye or the eye has been scratched by a fingernail, you should monitor it to ensure that the damage improves. If after two days there is no improvement you should see an optician.

Other injuries such as being hit in the eye with a ball, for example, do not need medical treatment although painkillers can be given if the child is in pain.

If there is grit, dust or similar in the eye, or the eye has been exposed to chemicals you can flush the eye out with either an eyewash or clean water. Spend at least 10-15 minutes flushing it out. If you think there are bits of dust or other material in the eye after flushing it, you should seek the advice of a medical professional. Detailed instructions on how to rinse an eye are on the NHS website.

If the eyes have any exposure to chemicals, you should seek medical advice immediately.

Do not attempt to remove anything that is embedded or stuck in the eye. You could damage the eye even more. Again, seek assistance from an optician or doctor.

If any of the following are observed, you should take the child to A&E:

  • Any foreign object that cannot be rinsed away
  • Visible blood in the eye
  • Deep cuts around the eye
  • The eye is sticking out of its socket
  • The child has ongoing or severe eye pain
  • The child has decreased vision, double vision, or flashing lights, spots, halos or shadows
  • The pupil is irregularly shaped

If in doubt, call 999 or visit your local Accident and Emergency department.

Want peace of mind knowing that you can react calmly in an emergency? Parents and carers can join us on our Baby and Child First Aid course and if you’re a childcare professional we run Paediatric First Aid courses.


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