Workers in many types of industries are at risk for serious eye injuries. These commonly include contusions and fractures of bones that form the eye socket or orbit, contusions and lacerations of the eyelids, foreign bodies in the eye, and abrasion of the cornea or other injury to the eyeball. Such injuries are frightening occurrences that are easily mismanaged. The following are quick tips for emergency treatment of eye injuries.
Eye Contusion or Lacerations
Occupations that expose the eye to injury, such as construction work or professional sports, offer the risk for contusions (blunt injuries) and lacerations (cuts). The symptoms are swelling, redness, tenderness, pain, bleeding or bruising in or around the eye and a change in vision.For trauma to the eyeball, it is vital to seek emergency treatment from a specialist. Lacerations may require suturing by an eye surgeon. For a contusion (black eye), use ice packs for the first 24 hours to reduce swelling. The next day, apply hot compresses off and on. Elevate the head while sleeping until symptoms subside. The doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments and eye drops to dilate the eye pupil and rest the eye muscles.
Contusions and Fractures Involving the Socket
Direct blows to the vicinity of the eye may shatter facial bones that form the orbit, or socket, holding the eye. Not only may the eye itself be involved, but muscles, tendons, nerves, skin, and other structures around the eye may be affected. There may be much pain and swelling, numbness, inability to move the eye normally or to see clearly.Seek emergency help. Don’t rub or wash the eye, and cover both eyes (since they move together) to prevent moving the injured eye. A cosmetic surgeon will probably perform facial surgery, after which the bones should heal within 6 to 8 weeks.
Corneal Abrasion and Ulcers
Environmental eye irritants can produce this open sore in the thin transparent layers covering the eye. There is usually severe eye pain, sensitivity to bright light, eyelid spasm, tearing, blurred vision, and redness.See a doctor immediately. This is a serious problem that is usually curable in several weeks with antibiotic eye drops. Eye patches and cool-water compresses may help relieve symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe medication for viral or fungal infections. If not treated early enough, corneal ulcers may penetrate the cornea and infect the eyeball, causing permanent vision loss.
Occupations such as carpentry or grinding of wood and metal are hazardous for foreign bodies in the eye. Symptoms are severe pain, redness, irritation, and a scratchy sensation.Don’t rub the eye; keep it closed, if possible, until you are examined by a doctor. After removal of the irritant, wear an eye patch or dark glasses for 24 hours to protect the eye from bright light. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or local anesthetic eye drops.
A note on prevention: These injuries are all much easier to prevent than to treat. Risk for most eye injuries can be lessened greatly by wearing protective eye coverings at work, when possible. And remember, OccNet locations are there when and where you need them to treat eye and other occupational injuries as well.
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