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Eye Injury

What is an eye injury?

An eye injury usually consists of cuts, scrapes, or bruises on or near the eye. If you have an eye injury, you need to get medical care quickly to check your vision. Getting care right away may prevent loss of sight. Although first aid is helpful, it is not easy to know how much the eye has been damaged. Give first aid then seek medical care, especially if there is pain in the eye or vision changes.

How is it treated?

Cuts or scrapes

If you have a cut near the eye, first wash your hands. Put a clean cloth over the eyeball area to protect it. Then use a clean cloth to wash the wound thoroughly with soap (liquid soap is best) and water for 5 minutes. Rinse the wound well. Put pressure on the cut for 10 minutes with a sterile gauze to stop bleeding. You do not need to put a bandage on the cut. Antibiotic ointments are usually not needed.

If you suspect that the eyeball itself has been cut or punctured, do not attempt to clean or wash out the eye. It’s best to tape a paper or Styrofoam cup over your eye and go immediately to your healthcare provider or emergency room. Do not put any pressure on the eye.

Swelling or bruises

Swelling usually follows injury to the tissues or bone around the eye. Apply ice for 20 minutes. Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain if necessary. Don't be surprised if a black eye develops over the next 2 days. You may also get a bruise of the white of the eyeball (a subconjunctival hemorrhage). These bruises may look bad, but they are harmless. They do not spread to inside the eye and clear up in about 2 weeks.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site:
Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-10-29
Last reviewed: 2010-10-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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