Ouch! My Eye Hurts!

By Dr. Todd B. Lang –

my eye hurtAccording to the American Society of Trauma (ASOT), approximately 2.5 million eye injuries occur every year in the United States.

Adult males 18 to 45 years of age are the most common age group to get injured in just under half of reported injuries. Approximately 25% of reported injuries occur in children under 18 years of age. Those adults over 45 years of age, account for just over a quarter of reported injuries.

About 75% of those injured recover all of their vision, about 18% are left with partial impairment, and approximately 7% leave people legally blind!

Eye injuries in the ASOT study showed most eye injuries are superficial in nature and 50.3% of those injuries were at the cornea and 48.9% were at the conjunctiva.

Most Common Injury to the Eye
Abrasions are probably the most common injury to the eye. This occurs in/on any part of the eye but the most painful and most potential for vision loss is on the cornea. The cornea has more nerve endings than any other part of the body. As a result, the slightest injury to this structure is quite painful! It is a good idea to have this evaluated by your eye doctor as soon as possible. There are certain bacteria that can be blinding within 24 hours if untreated. Abrasions can occur in a variety of ways. Occasionally people will have debris blow into the eye which then causes abrasions. A grain of sand at the beach, a small fragment of a leaf or bark, a bug, etc. may get lodged under the upper lid and as the person blinks, this debris rubs up and down over the cornea and/or conjunctiva! Examination reveals small abrasions on the surface of these structures. Upon removal, patients have almost immediate relief!

If you have been using a power tool like a nail gun, a grinder, a high speed drill, a jack hammer, or hammer against metal or concrete, and you think something is stuck in your eye, don’t delay, get to your eye doctor immediately! If you see something sticking out of your eye, DO NOT remove it! Let your doctor ascertain exactly how deep the foreign object is imbedded under a microscope. Then it can be determined if the object can be removed in the office or an operating room.

Chemical burns usually happen by acid or alkali splashing into the eye! Occasionally it may accidentally be sprayed into the eye from aerosol cans such as hairspray, paint cans, or household cleaners! Acid works quickly and causes damage almost immediately while alkali is slower acting and tends to take longer to cause damage. Both of them should be irrigated immediately with clean water and for at least 20 minutes. Only after the irrigation is completed should someone leave to go to the eye doctor. On the way, a cold compress will help to manage the pain associated. You may consider starting your preferred over the counter pain medication to help mitigate pain.

Blunt trauma to eye can cause a couple of different problems. If you see blood covering part of the iris (colored part of the eye), this is called a hyphema. It is caused by a tear or broken blood vessel in the iris. The blood flows into the chamber between the cornea and the iris called the “anterior chamber.” This increases risk for glaucoma immediately and into the future. Blunt trauma to this area can cause fractures to the orbit walls. These walls make up the socket that hold the eye in place. When the eye gets hit, it pushes out the wall of the orbit breaking it. When fractures occur, sometimes the muscles that turn the eye get entrapped at the break. This causes impingement preventing the muscles from moving the eye properly and getting it out of sync with the other eye. The clinical name for this condition is called a “blowout fracture.” Double vision can sometimes occur and may become permanent if not dealt with soon enough.

Car accidents can cause devastating trauma to the eyes. It was shown in the “EyeSmart” Campaign that in car accidents where there were eye injuries as a result of airbag deployment, the injuries were substantially less and vision recovery more rapid when seat belts were in use at the time of the accident! It was also noted the eye injuries were much worse in vehicles that did not have airbags or when the airbags didn’t deploy.


For All Eye Injuries:

  • DO NOT touch, rub, or apply pressure to the eye.
  • DO NOT try to remove the object stuck in or on the eye.
  • DO NOT apply ointment or medicine to the eye.
  • See an eye doctor as soon as possible. Try to see your eye doctor if you have one. Most doctors have systems in place to care for their patients after hours.

941-637-0202 | www.baysideeyecentre.com

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