First Aid: Eye Injuries

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First Aid

Most eye injuries are minor, like getting soap in the eye or a speck of dirt under the eyelid. Others, like those that happen during sports activities, can be serious and require medical attention.

Signs and Symptoms

  • redness
  • stinging or burning
  • watering
  • sensitivity to light
  • blurred vision
  • swelling of the eyelids
  • discoloration around the eye

What to Do

If you think your child has a particle in the eye or a minor irritation, be sure to:

  • Wash your hands before touching the eye area.
  • Flush the eye with water as soon as possible:
    • Tilt the child's head over a basin or sink with the affected eye pointed down.
    • Gently pull down the lower lid.
    • Gently pour a steady stream of lukewarm water over the eye.
  • Flush the eye for up to 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes to see if the foreign body has been flushed out.

Seek Medical Care

If Your Child Has:

  • been struck in the eye with a ball or other object
  • a red or irritated eye
  • eye discomfort
  • a swollen, red, or painful area around the eye or eyelid
  • an eye that's very sensitive to light

Seek Emergency Care Immediately

If Your Child Has:

  • trouble seeing
  • been exposed to chemicals
  • something embedded in the eye
  • severe eye pain
  • blood in the eye
  • nausea or vomiting after an eye injury

Think Prevention!

Kids who play sports should wear protective goggles or unbreakable glasses as needed. Keep chemicals and other potentially dangerous objects out of the reach of children.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014



Related Resources

OrganizationAmerican Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus This organization provides vision information and resources.
Web SiteEyeCare America EyeCare America is a public service foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology that works to raise awareness about eye disease and care, provide free eye health educational materials, and facilitate access to medical eye care.


Related Articles

Corneal Abrasions Corneal abrasions, which are common among kids, happen when something gets into the eye. Though sometimes painful, they're rarely serious and usually heal within a few days.
Your Child's Vision It's important for kids to have their eyes examined regularly, as many vision problems and eye diseases can be detected and treated early.
First Aid: Pinkeye Pinkeye is an inflammation of the white part of the eye and the inner eyelids. Although some kinds of pinkeye go away on their own, others require treatment.
Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis) Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, is the most common eye infection affecting kids. Learn more about pinkeye and how to prevent it from spreading.
Eye Injuries You can treat many minor eye irritations by flushing the eye, but more serious injuries require medical attention.
A to Z: Contusion (Bruise), Eye Learn more about black eyes and contusions (bruises) of the eye.
A to Z: Blepharitis Learn about the causes of eye irritation and conditions that can affect the eyes and eyelids.
A to Z: Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye) Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the tissue covering the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid.
A to Z: Hyphema Hyphema is a condition that happens when blood collects in the front part of the eye.
A to Z: Foreign Body, Eye To prevent damage to the eye, any object that isn't washed out right away by tears must be removed.
Styes A stye is a backed-up oil gland in the eyelid. Styes are usually easy to get rid of.
Eyes The eyes are small compared with most of the body's other organs, but their structure is incredibly complex. Learn more about eyes, vision, and common problems with both.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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