The first group of injuries I will describe are exposure injuries. This occurs when a toxic substance enters the eye. Most household chemicals are toxic to the eye. Cleaning products and other chemicals can splash into the eye. Many of these chemicals are alkaline or acidic. Both alkalines and acids can cause damage to the surface of the eyes. It is important to rinse the eyes if they are exposed to these chemicals. If you are wearing contact lenses, remove them as the cheicals can collect under the lens and cause sustained damage. Make sure to wear protective eyewear when working with these chemicals.
Another source of toxicity to the eye is from light. Sunlight and lasers can damage the retina resulting in vision loss. Always use sunglasses or protective eyewear when out in the sun or using lasers. Remember to never point a laser at anyone’s eyes.
The next group of injuries are preojectiles. These injuries result from objects flying into the eye. Most of these objects are pieces of metal that come from tools and drills. These are relatively slow velocity and damage the surface of the eye. These pieces cause pain and blurred vision. They often can be removed in the office and the eye has a complete recovery.
High velocity objects like bullets, pellets and BB’s can enter the eye and cause extensive damge to all of the structures of the eye. Many times these objects will leave a hole in the eye. The objects have to be surgically removed and the hole surgically closed.
The next group of injuries are called blunt trauma. Sports like soccer, racquetball and paintball can cause severe damage to the eye without entering the eye. These balls can cause severe bleeding and damage to the eye. As with most eye injuries, eye protection can prevent these injuries.
The last group of injuries are physical trauma. Assaults can result in injuries to the eyes. Getting punched in the eye causes rupture of the blood vessels of the eyelids (black eye), fracture of the bones around the eye and damage to the eye structures. Severe blows can also cause retinal detachments or bleeding in the eyes.
The important point to remember is that most eye injuries are preventable. Please do everything you can to preserve a vision of health.