Common Eye Injuries

This article reviews common eye injuries. If you feel you have one of these injures or you have an eye emergency you must call your own eye care provider.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 2.5 million eye injuries occur every year. Almost 90% of these injuries could be prevented with protective eyewear.

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

Wearing eye protection when mowing the lawn, cutting wood, and playing sports can help protect your eyes from damage.

The only way to identify any vision loss or eye damage from an eye injury is through an eye examination.

The most common eye injuries are:

Corneal abrasions

These occur when the surface of the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye, is scratched or scraped. Treatment for corneal abrasions may include eye drops or ointments to reduce inflammation and pain, and sometimes a patch over the eye to keep it closed and promote healing. Avoid rubbing the eye as this can cause further damage.

Chemical burns

These occur when a chemical, such as a cleaning product, personal care product, or other chemical comes in contact with your eye.

If you get a chemical in your eye, you should seek medical attention immediately. Chemicals can cause serious damage to the eye, and quick medical attention can help prevent permanent damage or vision loss.

Here are some steps you can take while seeking medical attention:

  • Immediately flush your eye with water or saline solution for at least 15 minutes. If you are in an area with an eyewash station, use it to flush your eye.
  • If possible, remove any contact lenses you may be wearing before flushing your eye.
  • Seek medical attention right away, either by calling emergency services or going to the nearest emergency room. Be sure to let the healthcare provider know what chemical you were exposed to, if known.
  • Continue flushing your eye with water or a saline solution until you can be seen by a healthcare provider.

Foreign objects in the eye

A foreign object can be anything from a speck of dust to a metal shard and the foreign object can cause irritation, scratching or even a puncture of the eye.

It is important to seek medical attention promptly if you have a foreign object in your eye. Do not attempt to remove the object yourself, as this can cause further damage to the eye.

Here are some steps that an eye doctor may take to treat a foreign object in the eye:

  • Eye examination: The eye doctor will examine the eye to locate the foreign object and determine the extent of the injury.
  • Numbing eye drops: Eye drops that numb the eye may be used to alleviate pain and allow the eye doctor to work on the eye.
  • Removal of the foreign object: The eye doctor may remove the foreign object using a special tool, such as forceps, or by flushing the eye with saline solution.
  • Antibiotic eye drops or ointments: After the foreign object is removed, the eye doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments to prevent infection.
  • Patching the eye: In some cases, the eye doctor may place a patch over the affected eye to promote healing and prevent further injury.
  • Follow-up: The eye doctor may schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor the healing process and ensure that no complications arise.

Black eye

A black eye is a bruise around the eye that is typically caused by a blow to the eye or face. 

Most black eyes will heal on their own within a week or two, but it’s important to monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention 

If your symptoms worsen or don’t improve after a few days or if you experience severe pain, double vision, or other concerning symptoms, consult with a healthcare professional.


This is bleeding in the front chamber of the eye, typically caused by a blunt trauma. Injuries can cause bleeding in the front (or anterior chamber) of your eye, between the cornea and the iris. This bleeding is called a hyphema. 

Hyphema is a medical emergency. Call your eye doctor right away. If they’re not available, go to your local hospital’s ER.

Orbital fractures

These occur when one or more bones around the eye are broken, usually due to a blunt force injury. These fractures are almost always a result of a blunt force trauma injury, whether by accident or from sports.

It is important to seek medical attention promptly if you suspect that you have an orbital fracture. Delayed treatment can lead to complications such as double vision, vision loss, or chronic pain.

Your doctor can assess the extent of the fracture and recommend the best course of treatment for your specific situation.


This is a painful condition that can occur after excessive exposure to UV light, such as from the sun or tanning beds. In most cases, photokeratitis will heal on its own within a few days.

However, it is important to protect your eyes from further UV exposure and seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen or do not improve after a few days. 

In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary for pain management and to prevent further damage to the eye.

Gregory Scimeca, M.D.
Ophthalmologist and Medical Director
The Eye Professionals

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