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First Aid for Eyes

First aid, no matter how simple, can make the difference in saving your eyesight. When an emergency happens, it is important to seek medical attention for your eyes immediately after injury. A severe injury can lead to infection, vision loss, or blindness. Using some of these simple first aid techniques when an accident happens may help save your sight or the sight of someone else:

  • Bleeding from the eye - Trauma to the eye or head may cause bleeding of the eye. If you suspect that the blood is coming from inside or is collecting in the eye, cover the eyes with a clean cloth and dial 9-1-1, or go to the nearest emergency room. Be careful not to put any pressure on the eyeball.
  • Chemical exposure in the eyes - If you are wearing contact lenses, remove them immediately. Keeping them in your eyes may hold the chemical against the cornea, causing unnecessary damage and pain. If you suspect chemicals have entered the eye, begin flushing them immediately with cool water and continue to do so for approximately 15 minutes. Seek immediate medical attention by dialing 9-1-1 or going to the nearest emergency room. You will need to know the name of the chemical, or if possible, take its container with you to the emergency room.
  • Object in the eye - If you have an object in your eye, do not irritate your eye by rubbing it. You may try to remove the particle if it is not embedded in the eye. Do not try to remove an object that is embedded in the eye. Seek emergency medical attention by dialing 9-1-1, or by going to the nearest emergency room.

First, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This will prevent further contamination or infection.

Try flushing the eye. Using your finger and thumb, gently pull the upper eyelid down over the top of the lower eyelid. This should cause tearing and flush the object out. You may need to repeat this action several times.

If tearing does not work, you may try flushing the particle out using cool water for as long as necessary. This can be done in a sink, with an outside hose, or a glass of water that is contaminant-free.

If you can see the object, you may try to remove it with a washcloth. Gently lift the upper or lower eyelid, and use a clean, wet washcloth to wipe the object away. If this does not work, seek immediate medical attention.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/5/2009...#8569