Eye injuries can result from sports injuries, accidents and foreign objects in the eye. These can cause pain, swelling, redness and other symptoms. Some people see flashes of light or have vision changes. Serious injuries to the eye may cause permanent vision loss.
Eye injuries include bruises, punctures and scratches. They can result from accidents, exposure to chemicals or foreign objects in the eye.
See an ophthalmologist right away if you have an eye injury. Some eye injuries heal with rest and at-home treatments. Others can cause serious eye damage and vision loss.
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Eye injuries range from mild to severe. Some of the most common eye injuries include:
Anyone can get an eye injury. Kids and teenagers are more likely to injure their eyes, especially while playing sports or doing other recreational activities. People who play contact sports like football and hockey have a higher risk. Baseball and softball players are more likely to have an eye injury from a flying ball.
Construction workers and people who work with chemicals, lasers and potential irritants have a higher risk of an eye injury on the job. Eye injuries can happen at home while doing yard work, cooking, cleaning or setting off fireworks.
Symptoms vary based on the type of injury. They may appear suddenly or develop over time.
Signs of an eye injury include:
Most eye injuries cause damage to the eyeball or the bones and tissues around the eye.
It is possible to injure the eyes while using drills or saws or when mowing or edging the lawn. Other common causes of eye injuries include:
Your provider will ask about your symptoms and examine your eyes. Your provider may:
If you or your child has an eye injury, call for help right away. Treatment depends on the type and severity of the eye injury. Serious injuries may require surgery.
For minor eye injuries, treatment may include:
Most eye injuries can be prevented by planning ahead and wearing the right equipment. To avoid an eye injury, you should:
The outlook for people with eye injuries varies. Early evaluation by an eye doctor and treatment can significantly improve the prognosis and help avoid permanent vision loss. The outlook depends on several factors, including:
Call your provider right away if you or your child has signs of an eye injury. Untreated, many eye injuries can cause low vision, blindness and other eye problems.
If chemicals or other irritants are in the eye, flush the eye with clean water and call your provider. If a sharp object is stuck in the eye, don’t try to remove it. Seek care immediately.
If the injury is severe, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately. Significant eye and vision loss associated with eye injuries can result in permanent vision loss if untreated.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
An eye injury can happen to anyone at any time, so be sure to take precautions and wear protective eye gear. If you or your child has an eye injury, don’t rub the eye. Never try to remove a sharp object from the eye or the area around the eye. Some eye injuries can cause permanent vision loss -- get medical care right away.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/04/2021.
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