Generally, people are very good at keeping things out of their eyes. Their eyelashes help protect their eyes, reflexes can close the eyelids to block objects; and tears cleanse out most dirt or dust that do get by. But accidents can still occur. Sports and housework are common causes of eye injury. Even cooking or holding a small child can get a person’s eye injured unexpectedly. So, it is essential that everyone knows how to deal with these minor eye injuries. Read on to know about first aid for scratched eyes.
What is Corneal Abrasion?
Experiencing pain, redness, tearing or feeling like something is stuck in the eye, can be a sign of a scratch in the eye. The scratch or scrape is actually on the cornea, i.e. the clear round dome covering the coloured part of the eye called the iris and the pupil. Medically scratched eye is known as corneal abrasion.(1,6) Cornea plays a vital role in vision by helping focus light as it enters the eye.(2) So the vision can get affected when a corneal abrasion scars the cornea. Since the cornea is extremely sensitive, abrasions can be very painful. Other symptoms of corneal abrasion are increased sensitivity to light, blurred vision, redness around the eyes, headache and tears.(3) The symptoms of scratched eye can appear right away or may start or worsen hours after the injury. A scratch in the eye can happen due to many reasons like an individual pokes their eye or something gets trapped underneath their eyelid, like sand or dirt. Most corneal abrasions are minor injuries, which heal on their own within a few days.(3) However, if experiencing any redness, decrease in vision, severe pain, or a white spot on a usually clear front surface of their eye, the individual should contact their ophthalmologist immediately. The ophthalmologist can prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment, or steroid eye drops, to decrease inflammation and reduce the chance of scarring.(3)
First Aid for Scratched Eyes
In case of an eye injury, prompt medical attention should be sought. However, a person with a scratched eye should take some immediate steps known as first aid like:
Rinsing their eyes with clean water or saline solution. An eyecup or a small, clean glass should be used too. The rim of the glass should be rested on the bone at the base of the eye socket, below the lower eyelid. Washing the eyes with water or saline solution can flush the foreign object from the eye.(4)
Blinking several times can help get rid of small particles of dust or sand from the eyes.(4)
Stretching the upper eyelid over the lower eyelid.(4) The lashes of the lower eyelid can help brush away any foreign body caught under the surface of the upper eyelid.
The Dos and Don’ts in First Aid for a Scratched Eye
The best way to manage a scratched eye is to avoid getting one. Before engaging in an activity where the risk of injuring the eye is high, one should make sure to use protective eyewear.(4) An individual with a scratched eye should cautiously avoid certain actions which can aggravate the injury. Rubbing the eye after the injury should be strictly avoided. Touching, pressing, or rubbing the eye can worsen the corneal abrasion. The eye should not be touched with anything like fingers, cotton swabs and other objects. These would not help remove the foreign object but can rather hurt the eye more. The sufferer should remember that the object which caused the scratch in the eye could be gone even though they still feel as if something is in their eye. Patient should never try to remove an object which is embedded in the eyeball or a large object which makes closing the eye difficult. Wearing contact lenses should be avoided as it can slow the healing process and cause complications.(5) People, whose eye is sensitive to light because of a scratch should wear sunglasses.(7) Sunglasses can lessen the symptoms while they heal.