Basic First Aid for Eye Injuries

Basic First Aid for Eye Injuries

Eye injuries can be terrifying for the injured person and anyone that has to give basic first aid care. The most important thing to remember is that basic first aid is used to stabilize the eye prior to going to the hospital. You should never attempt to remove foreign objects from an eye or perform any other treatment beyond basic first aid. Leave the detailed treatment to the professionals.

The thing that makes eye injuries so traumatic for the person trying to administer first aid is the distress that the injured individual is experiencing. It is hard to remain calm when someone is traumatized about his eye injury. But the best thing you can do is remain calm and apply basic treatment before heading to the hospital.

First Aid Supplies

Since you should never try to remove large foreign objects from someone’s eye, the last thing you want in an eye first aid kit is a pair of tweezers. Eyelashes and small debris can be washed out of an eye using a saline wash or warm water.

Your first aid kit should include a cold compress for several reasons. If something strikes a person in the eye, then the cold compress will reduce the swelling and the pain. Cold compresses also help reduce irritation that causes itching. It helps to reduce the itching especially on small cuts above the eye or if sand gets in someone’s eye.

Believe it or not, small paper cups are a necessary part of any eye injury first aid kit along with surgical tape. Anyone who gets a large object lodged in his eye, or needs the eye isolated to protect it on the way to the hospital, needs a small paper cup like a Dixie cup over the eye. The cup prevents you from having to place direct pressure on the eye which could make the damage worse, and protects the eye from irritating debris. The surgical tape is used to hold the cup in place.

Protective Eye Equipment

The most common form of eye protection is the use of soft, vinyl protective goggles. These goggles have a hard protective covering on the front and ventilation holes in the side of the goggles to prevent the front from steaming up. The soft, vinyl goggles are the best because they sit away from your eyes and have a better chance of absorbing a nail or other projectile while still protecting your eyes. Goggles that sit like glasses on your face and are often too close to your eyes to offer comprehensive protection.

If goggles are uncomfortable for you, then consider using a protective shield. It is made of hard plastic to protect the eyes, but it covers your entire face as opposed to just your eyes. Many people find shields more comfortable to wear than goggles and appreciate the fact that shields protect the rest of your face from flying debris as well.

Common Eye Injuries

Blunt Force

People often think of punch in the face when blunt force to the eye is mentioned. But blunt force can come from a broom or rake handle that you step on, a tree branch that you walked into or a plastic child’s toy that was thrown at your eye. While the conditions may seem amusing, the results are not. People take blunt force blows to the eye more frequently that you would imagine, and they can become serious injuries.

The first thing to do in the case of a blow to the eye is put a cold compress on the eye. If there is blood or obvious damage to the eye, then get to a hospital immediately.

Let the cold compress sit on the eye for a minute or two and then re-assess the situation. If the person cannot see out of the eye, or the eye is swelling up quickly, then put the compress back over the eye and get to the hospital. If the cold compress has helped the swelling and the person can see out of his eye, then he will have a nice shiner for a few weeks but he should be fine. The eye should still be looked at by a professional as soon as possible to make sure there is no permanent damage.

Cuts to the Eyelid

People working in a kitchen can make a movement that gives them a cut directly on the eyelid. Small children playing with sand in a sandbox or at the beach can rub sand in their eyes and cut their eyelid as well as grind sand into the eye. The simple act of passing someone a piece of paper can swipe across the eye at the wrong angle and cut the eyelid.

With cuts to the eyelid, it is important to follow the right first aid procedure to ensure that the person does not sustain any further damage. The most important thing to remember is that you should never apply pressure to the eye or the eyelid in this situation. If there is something stuck in the eyelid that caused the cut, then you will push that object deeper into the eye. You could also tear the eyelid if you apply pressure.

The best thing to do is to cover the eye with a small paper cup to prevent bacteria or debris from getting into the cut and get medical assistance immediately. This is an injury that only a professional should deal with to prevent further injury.

Chemicals in the Eye

Someone using household cleaning chemicals could rub their eye and get those chemicals in their eye. It is a common situation that requires quick action to prevent long-term damage to the eye.

If someone gets chemicals in their eye, wash the eye immediately with warm water or a saline eye wash and then get the person to the hospital. Do not put anything over the eye as that could just agitate the chemicals even more. If the chemicals have made the person sensitive to light, then cover his head with a towel before taking him to the hospital.


People scream in agonizing pain for a variety of injuries. That is why a reaction to pain is not a symptom to use when trying to determine if someone has an eye injury. Each eye injury is different, but they all display a similar set of symptoms that you should watch for.

The common symptoms of an eye injury are visual trauma to the eye, swelling of the eye, sensitivity to light, a persistent burning of the eyes, a constant watering of one or both eyes and impaired vision. If you see these symptoms, then you know it is time to put your new-found eye first aid abilities into action.

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