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Eye Injury First Aid Tips

The human eye is one of the most delicate and complex organs in the body. The location and sensitivity leave the eyes vulnerable to irritation and injury so it’s important that extreme caution is taken to avoid contact with any possible hazards.

Injury to the eyes can cause long term, partial or permanent damage. We all rely heavily on our ability to see and the loss or impairment of a person’s vision can cause lifelong stress and inconvenience.

An eye injury can be caused by many different factors but some common causes exist in our everyday environment such as stones, sporting balls, dirt, residue, sand and wooden splinters. Other common causes include fists, chemicals, a welder’s flash, ultraviolet light and smoke.

Due to the sensitivity of the eye, it is critical that First Aid is applied immediately when irritation or injury occurs. By responding in the first few moments you decrease the possibility of infection or loss of sight enormously. Follow our First Aid Guide for eye injuries to ensure you are ready to respond and provide the correct First Aid procedures.

Burns To The Eye

Burns to the eye are serious as they can cause partial or complete loss of sight. They can be caused by chemicals, heat (flames or radiant heat), a welding flash, ultraviolet lights, glues and solvents. If chemicals contact the eye you must apply First Aid within seconds.

Burns to the eye will cause immediate pain, swelling, become red and watery and you may be more sensitive to light. However, if the burn is caused by a welders flash it will not be until several hours afterwards that you will start to feel the effects.

Penetrating Eye Injury

A penetrating eye injury is a result of a sharp object piercing the eye. The object may dislodge or remain pierced in the eye. If the object is still piercing the eye DO NOT remove as you may cause more harm.

An eye penetration is very serious and can become easily infected if not cared for correctly. Unfortunately if the casualty becomes nauseous and vomits, the pressure from vomiting can intensify the injury.

Wounds To The Eye

Direct impact to the eye from instances such as fighting or playing sport can cause serious damage. The power of the impact can cause lacerations and bruising around the eye. Lacerations to the eyelid bleed freely so a dressing must be positioned to halt the bleeding as soon as possible. It’s important you apply the dressing with extreme care as any additional pressure to the eye may cause irreparable damage.

Foreign Objects In The Eye

Foreign objects in the eye can cause irritation and damage. These may include dust, debris, insects, loose eyelashes and makeup. If you think there may be an unknown object in the eye you must not rub the area as it will likely cause more damage.

The eye will automatically attempt to wash out any foreign objects by producing tears. If this does not work you must follow the First Aid steps for a foreign object in the eye.

Note: If the injury to the eye is severe do NOT remove the foreign object. This includes if the object is in the cornea of the eye, inside the eye or is piercing the eye.

­Embedded Object In The Eye

An embedded object is when you wash the eye out with sterile saline or cold water and the object does not move. When an object is embedded it should only be removed by medical professionals. First Aiders should not attempt to remove the object even if it is causing pain.

Smoke In The Eyes

Exposure to smoke can cause the eyes to become bloodshot, red, watery, irritated and painful. If you are exposed to smoke you should follow First Aid immediately to ensure no further irritation or damage is caused.

How To Prevent an Eye Injury From Occurring

  • Wear eye protection in any environment where objects such as sand, dust and debris fly around. This includes building sites and workshops
  • Wear a protective face shield when welding or if you are surrounded by people welding
  • Wear protective eyewear in sports such as squash, cricket and clay target shooting
  • Steer clear of people when they are cutting wood or mowing the lawns. Wear protective eyewear if you cannot remove yourself from exposure to these hazards
  • Steer clear of people who are using machinery for woodturning or metalworking. If you cannot remove yourself from the environment, wear a face shield
  • Steer clear of low branches
  • Carry sharp objects vertically

The majority of the population is born with the luxury of sight so naturally, we become highly dependent on the ability to see. Because of this, our vision is critical to the ease and success of almost everything that we do. This includes everyday simple tasks that are made easy when we have perfect vision.

With the loss or impairment of vision, actions that had become instinctive and almost robotic to us would become more challenging than ever before. You would be faced with obstacles daily that you had never given a second thought to.

The partial or complete loss of sight would be devastating to anyone, so it’s critical precautionary measures are taken in environments that people may be vulnerable to eye injuries. Additionally, if an eye injury occurs it’s even more important that the correct First Aid is applied.

Bitesize Facial and Eye Injuries
Bitesize Facial and Eye Injuries
Learn how to successfully provide emergency first aid to casualty suffering facial or eye injuries in this interactive online course.
RRP $14.95
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Learn how to manage a range of common first aid scenarios.

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St John has a range of First Aid products to suit any situation. 

Bitesize Burns course


Learn about different types of burns, how to effectively treat them and provide first aid for shock in this interactive online course.