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Last modified / updated Jan. 01, 2016
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Eye emergencies, foreign body in the eye; black eye

DEFINITION : Eye emergencies include chemical exposure, eyeball scratches, eyelid cuts, foreign body in the eye, object stuck in the eye, disease, burns, as well as cuts and blows to the eye.

CONSIDERATIONS : It is important to get medical attention for all eye problems. Since the eye is easily damaged, a delay in getting medical attention can cause permanent eye damage and loss of sight. Eye problems that are not due to injury (such as disease or infection) do not require first aid but do need medical attention. Chemical injury to the eye can be caused by an occupational accident or by common household products such as cleaning solutions, garden chemicals, solvents, or many other types of chemicals. Fumes and aerosols can also cause chemical burns. With acidic burns, the hazing of the cornea usually clears with a good chance of no permanent damage.Alkaline substances such as lime, and sodium hydroxide found in refrigeration equipment present the highest risk of permanent corneal damage. Ongoing damage may occur in spite of prompt treatment. Risk factors are frequent contact with chemicals.

CAUSES : Diabetes - hypertension - head injury - acute iritis - acute conjunctivitis - acute glaucoma - orbital cellulitis - central retinal artery occlusion - retinal detachment - eyelid laceration - blood in the eye (hyphema) - corneal abrasion - foreign body or object in the eye - chemical injury - blow or cut to the eye

SYMPTOMS : bleeding - bruising - cuts or wounds - decreased vision double vision - dry eyes - headache - itchy eyes - loss of vision - eye pain in or around - pupils of unequal size - redness; bloodshot appearance - sensitivity to light - stinging and burning - sensation of foreign body in the eye

DO NOT : DO NOT press on an injured eye or allow the victim to rub the eye(s). - DO NOT remove contact lenses unless rapid swelling is occurring or you cannot get prompt medical help. - DO NOT attempt to remove a foreign body that is resting on the cornea (the clear surface of the eye through which we see) or that appears to be embed in any part of the eye - get medical help. - DO NOT use dry cotton (including cotton swabs) or sharp instruments (such as tweezers) on the eye. - DO NOT attempt to remove an embed object. - DO NOT let a burn become contaminated. Avoid breathing or coughing on the burned area. CALL IMMEDIATELY FOR EMERGENCY MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IF : - an eye injury is serious. - any chemical gets into a victim's eye. - the cornea has been scratched. - eye pain persists. - there are any vision problems. FIRST AID : FOREIGN BODY IN THE EYE Often, the eye will clear itself of a tiny object through blinking and tearing. If not, here are some first aid measures:

  1. Do not rub the eye. Wash your hands before examining the eye.
  2. Examine the affected eye in a well-lighted area. To find a foreign body, have the victim look up and down and then side to side.
  3. If you can't find the object, grasp the eyelid and gently pull down on the lower lid to expose the fold between the eyelid and the globe of the eye. If necessary, pull up on the upper lid.
  4. If the foreign body can be seen on the inner surface of either the lower or upper lid, try to gently flush it out with water or lift it off with a clean cloth (not a cotton swab or tissue).
  5. If the foreign object is embed in the eyeball, cover the victim's eyes with a sterile pad or clean cloth. Do not try to remove the object. Get medical help.
  6. If you cannot locate the foreign body, or if you remove it but the victim still has discomfort or blurred vision, cover the victim's eyes with a sterile pad or clean cloth. Get medical help.
  1. Leave the object in place. Do not touch it or apply any pressure to it.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Calm and reassure the victim.
  4. Bandage the eye. If the object is large, place a paper cup or cone over the injured eye and tape it in place. If the object is small, cover both eyes with a clean cloth or sterile dressing.

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