Injuries to the eye and surrounding structures can be caused by blunt trauma from a ball or fist, sharp trauma such as a stick or projectile, scratches such as with a fingernail or chemical trauma such as splash from a caustic substance like a cleaning materials or pool supplies.
Injuries to the eye can involve the skin and eyelids, the bones surrounding the eye, or the eyeball itself.
Eyelid injuries usually occur as a result of sharp trauma such as injuries from sticks or projectiles that occur during play. If the eyelid tissue becomes cut or torn it could involve not only the eyelid but the structures that drain tears out of the eye. Any laceration of the eyelid or the torn draining structure requires evaluation by an ophthalmologist and may require repair n the operating room using microsurgical techniques. Any injury to the eyelid can also be associated with injury to the eyeball so a timely complete examination of the eye must be performed to make certain there is no injury deeper than on the surface of the eye.
Fractures to the bones around the eye usually occur from blunt trauma, such as a sports injury or a fall with injury to the nose and cheekbone, (see blow-out fracture). Fractures can be determined by performing x-rays or a CT scan and care must be taken to make certain that tissues surrounding the eye are not trapped in the fractures, as these injuries need prompt surgical treatment to prevent long-term complications such as double vision, loss of vision, and abnormal appearance.
The front, clear surface of the eye called the cornea can sometimes be scratched, which results in pain, redness and tearing. The physician or eye doctor can make the diagnosis by placing a yellow dye called fluorescein into the eye, which will highlight the scratch. Treatment involves using antibiotic eye drops and, in severe cases, may require covering the eye with a patch to keep the eye quiet and prevent blinking. These injuries require close follow up with your ophthalmologist.
Sometimes a sharp stick. shard of glass, or metallic object can actually cut the surface of the eye causing a laceration. This type of injury places the child at risk for permanent loss of vision (amblyopia or lazy eye). These lacerations must be repaired by an ophthalmologist promptly to prevent complications. Patching the sound eye may be required following repair to maximize vision potential.
Yes. For example, it is common for blunt trauma to cause bleeding in the eye, a condition called a hyphema. The bleeding in the eye can lead to increased pressure, which can cause permanent vision loss. Any child who is struck in the eye with the result of swelling of the eyelids, red eye, pain, redness, or watery discharge should be seen by an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
The first thing to do any time any abnormal liquid gets in eyes is to immediately wash out the eye. Rinsing the chemical out of the eye will decrease the chance of long-term problems. If there is any eye pain, redness, discomfort, or watering, the child should be seen by an emergency room doctor or an ophthalmologist immediately. Bring the chemical or solution with you to the doctor’s office as this will help the doctor determine appropriate treatment.
The most common cause of eye trauma occurs at school or during play. Wearing approved and tested eye and face protection is essential for preventing these injuries during sports. For example, no child should play hockey, be it ice or roller hockey, without wearing protective goggles or full face mask. Sports such as racquet ball or squash also require use of protective goggles at all times. Even in sports like baseball, eye injuries can be prevented by using batting helmets that protect the eye from a misdirected pitch.
Each year 1400 individuals sustain serious eye injury from fireworks that are used without appropriate supervision and precautions. Fireworks should only be used if approved for use in the home and children should never have access to either legal or illegal fireworks.
If your child sustains an eye injury seek immediate medical attention. Your ophthalmologist must check the child’s vision and carefully examine all the structures of the eye. Many times, a child who sustains an eye injury will have to be seen closely for several days until the injury has healed and then followed for a long period of time to make certain there is no long-term damage to the eye.
Are you a medical professional, interested in joining AAPOS? Find out more here ▶