Medically Reviewed by Dr. David Costa Navarro
Eye damage can be due to many different things and can be mild or more serious. Some eye damage goes away by itself but sometimes you may need treatment.
Different types of eye damage
Some eye injuries are mild, others more severe. They can cause many different symptoms. Most often it feels like it is scratching the eye, it is burning and can become red and irritated. The eye tears and you may become sensitive to light. You may also experience that your vision changes.
Usually you only get the damage to one eye, but you can also get damage to both eyes.
- 1 What could it be?
- 2 If it’s in a hurry
- 3 Try rinsing the eye with saline
- 4 A doctor at a health center can help remove the debris
- 5 Treatment with drugs
- 6 Rubbish in the eye can lead to inflammation
- 7 Twigs and branches can scratch the cornea
- 8 Larger objects can be stopped by the skeleton around the eye
- 9 Smaller objects are easier to damage the eye
- 10 Treatment with drugs
- 11 Sometimes surgery is needed
- 12 Treatment with drugs
- 13 Begin rinsing the eye immediately
- 14 The treatment depends on what the chemical was
- 15 You should understand the information
What could it be?
Damage to the eye can occur for a variety of reasons. In this text you can read about the following reasons:
- Rubbish in the eye, such as sand grains or metal shavings.
- Strokes against the eye or objects that hit the eye, such as branches or balls.
- Bright light, such as snow blindness and welding glare.
- Chemicals and corrosive substances in the eye.
- Laser against the eye.
The type of treatment that you need depends on how serious the injury occurred and how serious it is. Some eye injuries cause you to have a visual impairment that goes away by itself after a while. Other injuries can lead to permanent visual impairment.
When and where should I seek care?
Most people who get debris in the eye do not need to seek care. Often, the debris disappears when the eye tears or if you rinse it with water or saline.
If you have one or more of the following problems, contact a health care center or an on-call clinic:
- You have got debris in the eye that does not disappear even though you have tried to rinse the eye.
- You’ve got metal debris in your eye.
- You have a superficial scratch in your eye that doesn’t get better after a day.
- You have been exposed to strong light or laser and you still have trouble after two days.
If closed, you can wait until the on-call reception or medical center opens.
If it’s in a hurry
Immediately seek the advice of an ophthalmologist if any of the following has happened after you have had an eye injury:
- You will see a grayish or dark shadow on the edge of the field of view.
- You have trouble touching the eye or look double.
- The eye has been damaged by a sharp object in the eye.
Call 911 and ask the Poison Center if you think you have got a harmful chemical in your eye.
Rubbish in the eye
It is common to get junk in the eye. It can scratch and the eye may turn red if the garbage gets stuck under the eyelid. It is common for the eye to tear and sometimes the eye is rinsed clean by itself with it.
Try rinsing the eye with saline
Sometimes the rubbish is not rinsed off by itself, then you can try rinsing the eye with saline or regular tap water. It is good if you can blink a few times while rinsing your eye.
Seek treatment at a health care center if the junk is still left after you try to rinse it. Do not try to remove it yourself.
A doctor at a health center can help remove the debris
At the medical center, the doctor looks for any debris in the eye. Thereafter, the doctor may try to remove the debris with a moistened cotton swab or with a special instrument. They can also try to flush the debris out with saline solution.
Sometimes the doctor does not find any rubbish in the eye even though it feels like it is left. Then they can drip in the color fluid in the eye to more easily see small damage to the cornea. The pain may be due to a scab on the eye caused by the debris. Such superficial wounds usually heal within 24 hours.
Treatment with drugs
Sometimes you can have eye drops or an ointment to take home. They may sometimes contain cortisone or be lubricating to the eye.
Rubbish in the eye can lead to inflammation
Eye rubbing can cause you to get corneal ulcer. It can lead to inflammation or infection of the cornea, which is called keratitis.
Stroke to the eye and objects that hit the eye
Most of the damage that occurs after you have had a blow to the eye or eye debris is minor and goes away by itself. But it can feel tender and scratchy as it heals.
Twigs and branches can scratch the cornea
The cornea can be scratched if, for example, a branch or twig hits the eye. It can hurt, but the scratch is usually superficial.
The injury usually heals itself within one to two days. As the injury heals, you may become more sensitive to light and also experience other visual impairments.
Larger objects can be stopped by the skeleton around the eye
Large objects, such as a football, that hit the eye area are often stopped by the leg edge around the eye. It can cause you to become sore, red and swollen around the eye but the eye itself does not need to be damaged. You can also get bruising around the eye and swollen eyelids.
In very severe blows, for example in traffic accidents or beatings, you can get damage to the eye and the bone that is around the eye. Then you may also see double or difficult to move the eye.
Smaller objects are easier to damage the eye
Smaller objects are easier to damage the eye itself because the bone edge around the eye does not stop the object. Both blunt and severe violence can cause serious eye damage. If you have severe symptoms, seek urgent help.
Treatment with drugs
Mild eye damage to the cornea, for example, can be treated with eye drops and eye ointments. They may include, among other things, antibiotics, cortisone or a substance that causes the pupil to dilate.
You will be treated with medicines if the damage has caused the pressure in the eye to be increased. The treatment reduces the pressure in the eye.
Sometimes surgery is needed
More serious damage to the eye or, for example, the bone around the eye may sometimes need surgery.
Bright light can make you snow-blind. This can happen if you have spent several hours in strong sunlight reflected by water, sand or snow. Then the cornea can be damaged and the eyes can become irritated. The same type of injury can occur if you look at a welding flame without wearing goggles. Then it is called a welding glare. Even strong laser light can damage the eye. But it is unusual for laser pointers to cause permanent damage to the eyes.
It is common for the eyes to feel horribly sore, that the eyes turn red and that you get increased tear flow. You may also become sensitive to light.
Seek care if you have received strong laser light against the eyes and have clear persistent problems after two days.
Treatment with drugs
It usually feels better to be in the dark and the trouble usually goes away by itself within one to two days. You can relieve the hassle by using the prescription eye ointment Oculentum Simplex. For pain, you can use any analgesic containing paracetamol such as Alvedon or Panodil.
Chemicals and corrosive substances in the eye
If you have got a corrosive substance in the eye, it may burn or feel like rubbish in the eye. You become sensitive to light, the eye turns red, it tears and becomes swollen.
Always wear safety goggles when working with hazardous chemicals and toxic substances.
Begin rinsing the eye immediately
Corrosive substances such as caustic soda, lye, plug solvents and acids can seriously damage the eye.
Start rinsing the eye immediately and continue to do so for at least 20-30 minutes. Tap water is excellent rinse aid in this situation. Keep the eyelids apart, then the rinsing will be more effective.
Call 911 and request the Poison Information Center.
Continue to rinse the eye during transport to hospital.
The treatment depends on what the chemical was
In hospitals, doctors continue to rinse the eye to remove the substance. How much the eye needs to be rinsed depends on what the substance is. Sometimes you may be treated with eye drops or ointment.
Influence and participate in your care
As a patient, according to the Patient Act, you have the opportunity to influence your care.
You can seek care at any medical center or open specialist clinic you want throughout the country. Sometimes referral to the open specialized care is required.
You should understand the information
In order for you to be involved in your care and treatment, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare personnel. Ask questions if you don’t understand. For example, you should get information about treatment options and how long you may have to wait for care and treatment.
Children should also be involved in their care. The older the child, the more important it is.