Dr. Ankita Patil

Eye Injury

What is an eye injury?

Eye injuries include bruises, punctures and scratches. They can result from accidents, exposure to chemicals or foreign objects in the eye.

See an ophthalmologist right away if you have an eye injury. Some eye injuries heal with rest and at-home treatments. Others can cause serious eye damage and vision loss.

What are the most common eye injuries?

Eye injuries range from mild to severe. Some of the most common eye injuries include:

  • Black eye: A blow to the eye or the tissue around it causes a black eye. The area around the eye is bruised, swollen and painful. The eyelid may also be cut. The swelling can interfere with vision.
  • Bleeding in the eye: An eye surface hemorrhage (bleeding) can result from straining too hard (such as during a cough) or from trauma to the eye. A subconjunctival hemorrhage happens when blood appears in the clear skin part of the eye (the conjunctiva) that covers the white part (the sclera). Blood can also pool between the cornea and the iris (the clear transparent of the eye and the colored part). This bleeding is called a hyphema.
  • Burns and irritation: Chemicals, fumes and other irritants can burn or damage the eye, leading to vision loss.
  • Corneal abrasion: Foreign objects, fingernails, contact lenses and other items can scratch the cornea. The cornea is the clear transparent area on the front of the eye. Corneal abrasions cause pain, sensitivity to light, and eye watering.
  • Injury from a foreign object: When something lodges in the eye, vision problems and eye pain can result. The most common foreign objects in the eye include dirt or debris, sawdust or shattered glass. Contact lenses can cause eye injuries when they stay in the eye too long.
  • Orbital (eye socket) fractures: Trauma or blunt force to the bones surrounding the eye can cause a fracture. Orbital fractures usually happen when an object or fist hits the eye. In an orbital blowout fracture, bones inside the eye socket shatter. The muscles that support the eyes can stretch, tear or become trapped. Children are especially susceptible to this.
  • Retinal detachment: A detached retina can cause permanent vision loss. It usually results from age-related changes or trauma to the eye. It happens when the retina (thin tissue on the back of the eye) pulls away from the wall of the eye.

Who is at risk of an eye injury?

Anyone can get an eye injury. Kids and teenagers are more likely to injure their eyes, especially while playing sports or doing other recreational activities. People who play contact sports like football and hockey have a higher risk. Baseball and softball players are more likely to have an eye injury from a flying ball.

Construction workers and people who work with chemicals, lasers and potential irritants have a higher risk of an eye injury on the job. Eye injuries can happen at home while doing yard work, cooking, cleaning or setting off fireworks.


What are the symptoms of eye injuries?

Symptoms vary based on the type of injury. They may appear suddenly or develop over time.

Signs of an eye injury include:

  • Pain and swelling: Your eye may hurt, especially when you try to open, close or move it. The eye may be sensitive to the touch. Swelling can affect the eyeball, eyelid or entire face.
  • Bruising and redness: Any part of the eye may appear red or bruised.
  • Vision changes: You may see floating black spots or flashes of light (floaters and flashes). In addition to eye floaters, you may notice blurry or double vision and other vision problems.
  • Problems with eye movement: You may not be able to move your eyes easily. One eye may move independently from the other.
  • Changes in eye appearance: One eye may look crossed (strabismus). The pupils may be different sizes or unusually large or small. One eye may protrude (stick out) from the eye socket more than the other one or look sunken.
  • Bleeding: The white part of the eye may look bright red, or you might see small red or black spots in the eye. A red eye can be a sign of an eye injury or several other health conditions.

What causes eye injuries?

Most eye injuries cause damage to the eyeball or the bones and tissues around the eye.

It is possible to injure the eyes while using drills or saws or when mowing or edging the lawn. Other common causes of eye injuries include:

  • Sports: Injuries can occur from flying baseballs, tennis balls or volleyballs. Contact sports can also lead to eye injuries (such as an elbow in the face during a basketball game).
  • Accidents: A wide range of accidents can damage the eyes, including trauma from sharp objects, blunt force and falls. Car accidents are a common cause of eye injuries, either from impact during a crash or from shattered glass. Eye damage can result from grease splatters while cooking or exposure to chemicals while cleaning the home.
  • Workplace hazards: People who work with chemicals, lasers and other irritants are more likely to have an eye injury on the job.
  • Strain: Severe exertion while coughing, vomiting or lifting a heavy object can lead to an eye bleeding.

Chemical Injury

Many chemicals present a serious hazard of causing a chemical injury

At home, products such as drain cleaners, oven cleaners, brick cleaners and rust removers, have the potential to cause a chemical injury if they come into contact with the skin or the eye.

At work, the risks increase significantly because of the volume, concentration and variety of chemicals increases.

Associated problems are:

  • Being able to identify the chemical.
  • The lack of knowledge regarding the chemical’s mechanism.
  • The lack of synergy between the chemical and the emergency management protocol.

The consequences following a splash with an aggressive chemical can result in a chemical injury (lesion)

What is a chemical injury (lesion)?

A chemical lesion is the local result of the reaction that corrosive or irritant chemical products have with biological tissue.

The chemical lesion is characterised by partial or total destruction of the biological tissue.

The severity of the lesion is proportional to the amount of tissue destruction: the severity of the chemical lesion is related to the type of chemical product, the nature of the tissue involved and the area affected.

The skin, eye, digestive and respiratory tract are in direct contact with the outside of the body and are therefore the primary targets of chemical products. Chemical lesions are injuries inflicted by contact between chemical products and these specific tissues.

The chemical lesion may also be accompanied by other systemic symptoms. When the chemical product causing the chemical lesion is toxic or harmful and passes into the body, reaching the organs or the bloodstream, it may interact with other biological targets.