People often suffer from eye injuries and it is usually due to damage in the cornea. The cornea is the ‘protective window’ of the eye that works with the lens in order to focus images onto the retina. The cornea, however, is a very sensitive tissue which can be easily scratched by the edges of paper, metal particles, wood shaving and sand. The injury is called a corneal abrasion and usually the surface of the eye is only affected. However, some injuries tend to get infected and may cause severe problems such as corneal ulcers.
Corneal abrasions are usually agitating and painful and may lead to delayed effects. Therefore, it is essential that you seek immediate medical help to treat the injury before further damage takes place.
Corneal abrasion may be caused by:
- Using contact lenses too often or using lenses that do not fit properly
- Negative reactions to contact lens’ fluids and cosmetics
- Irritation due to chemicals
- Scratches on the cornea due to any foreign object
- Exposure to sunlight or UV light for long periods of time
- Dust or sand getting into the eyes
- Dry eyes
- Particles flying in at high speed such as metal chips may cause external cuts as well
If the following symptoms appear in the casualty, call for prompt medical help:
- Redness of the eye
- Blurred vision
- Stinging or burning feeling in the eye
- Swollen eyelids
- Watery eyes
While you wait for help to arrive, take the following steps to ensure that the casualty is at ease and no further damage is caused:
- Take lenses off, if the casualty is wearing them. Rinse the affected eye with clean water or saline solution. Gently place a small cup of water with its rim placed on the bone of the eye socket’s baseline. Pour the water and rinse the eye thoroughly. If there is an eye-rinse station around, use that instead. Rinsing the eye properly may dislodge the foreign object and reduce discomfort.
- Tell the casualty to either close his eyes or blink several times. This may reduce irritation and lubricate the cornea.
- Do NOT try to remove the object yourself as this may further damage the eye.
- Pull the upper eyelid on top of the lower eyelid. The lashes may brush off any foreign object embedded on the surface of the eye and make the object attach itself under the eyelid. Make sure this is done gently and do not try to take steps that may worsen the injury.
- Make sure the casualty does not rub his eyes. Rubbing the eyes may be a reflex action due to too much irritation in the eyes.
- Do not try to let any cotton swabs, pieces of cloth, tweezers or any other piece of equipment to get in contact with the eye as this may worsen the abrasion.