First Aid Certificate Training and Courses

Eye Injuries

Eye Injuries

The eye can be easily damaged with eye injuries being sustained in many ways. Examples include injuries from blunt objects, penetrating objects, foreign bodies, welder’s flash, chemical or heat burns and ultraviolet radiation (sun). It is extremely important that the correct treatment is applied to an injured eye as incorrect treatment of an eye injury can result in irreversible eye damage.
Individuals employed in specific industries such as labourers, boilermakers, fitters and turners and woodcutters are at greater risk of eye injury. It is advisable that all individuals take appropriate precautions to prevent eye injury by wearing protective eyewear when necessary. The wearing of sunglasses is also important in protecting eyes from the sun.

Possible Complications

Most injuries are minor and usually heal without further problems given the right care. Possible complications include:

Infection and scarring – if the foreign body is not removed from your eye.

Corneal scratches and abrasions – a foreign body may scratch the cornea.

Ulcer – a scratch on the cornea may form an ulcer.

Penetration of the eye – an object can pierce the eye, causing serious injury and even blindness.

Corneal scarring – this can cause some degree of permanent visual loss.

Minor Eye Injury

Minor eye injuries are injuries where the eye has come in contact with a foreign object causing minor irritation, or the object remains on the surface of the eye.

Bleeding into the white of the eye.

Obvious foreign body in the eye such as sand, grit, dirt.

Inability to open the eye due to pain.

Sensitivity to light.

Sharp pain to the eye.

Red eye.

Feeling that there is something in the eye.

Swelling around the eye.

Watery eye.

Scratchy feeling when blinking.

Blurred vision or loss of vision in the affected eye.

Reassure the casualty and sit/lay the casualty down away from bright lights or sunlight.

Irrigate the eye gently with cool, clean water or saline in an attempt to flush the foreign object out.

Ensure you irrigate under the eyelid.

If this fails, touch the corner of a clean wet cloth to the object and lift it off the surface – use a lint free cloth. Avoid ‘pushing’ the object around the eye’s surface.

If the injury is caused by chemical or heat burns, irrigate the eye with cool clean water for approximately 20 minutes.

Cover the affected eye if appropriate and if tolerated by the casualty, cover the unaffected eye as well, as this will help to reduce eye movement. Be prepared to remove the cover if the casualty becomes anxious.

Only use eye drops if prescribed by a doctor.

Seek Urgent Medical Assistance if:

There is considerable pain and watering after the object has been removed.

Vision is blurry after the patch is removed, or there are other vision changes such as blind spots or seeing ‘stars’.

Clear or bloody fluid is coming from the eyeball.

You are concerned for any other reason.

When removing minor foreign bodies from the eye (e.g. dirt, dust, etc),
only remove the foreign body if it is on the white of the eye.
If the foreign body is on the coloured part of the eye you should only irrigate with water or saline.

Major Eye Injury

Major eye injuries are injuries that involve the penetration of the body of the eye, or involve severe blunt trauma to the eye.

Bleeding from the eye.

Penetrating object in the eye.

Disturbance of vision.

Protrusion of eye contents.

Follow the DRSABCD emergency action plan.

Lay the casualty down with head and shoulders slightly raised.

Call 000 for an ambulance urgently.

If tolerated by the casualty, cover unaffected eye, as this will help to reduce eye movement. Be prepared to remove the cover if the casualty becomes anxious.

If there is an object penetrating the eye place padding around the object.

DO NOT attempt to remove any penetrating object.

DO NOT use eye drops.

DO NOT transport the casualty to hospital; await the arrival of the ambulance.

Reassure the casualty and monitor for shock.


DO NOT apply pressure to the penetrating object or the casualty’s eye/s.
DO NOT remove any penetrating objects.

Flash Burn

A flash burn is a painful inflammation of the cornea. Flash burns are like sunburn to the eye and occurs when the eye is exposed to bright ultraviolet (UV) light. Sources of UV light include a welding torch, direct sunlight, reflection of the sun off water or snow, a sun lamp and halogen lamps.
It can happen in all types of UV light but is a common problem among welders. That’s why it is sometimes called welders flash or arc eye. Welder’s flash is the result of staring or inadvertently looking at the intense light caused during metal welding while not wearing the correct eye protection. The damage caused to the eye’s cornea by exposure to this intense light can be painful and, in some cases, permanent.
Your cornea can repair itself in one to two days and usually heals without leaving a scar. However, if the flash burn is not treated, an infection may start. This can be serious and may lead to some loss of vision. Treatment may include dilating drops, dressings and antibiotics.

Pain that may be mild to severe, usually starting a few hours after the incident.

Bloodshot eyes.

Light sensitivity.

Watery eyes.

Blurred vision.

The feeling of having sand in your eye.

Apply a cool compress and cover both the eyes to stop with pads to stop any movement of either eye.

Seek urgent medical assistance.

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