Developed by

Eye Injuries/Red Eye

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Eye injuries arise because of direct blows to the eye or foreign bodies in the eye. The eye is protectively located in the eye socket but a fracture to the bones in the face can also lead to eye injuries, even though the eye is not hit directly. All eye injuries should be taken seriously and should most often be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.

The most common injury is a foreign body in the eye, for example a small insect or grain of sand. The eye becomes watery and you rub your eye. Later the white part of the eye becomes red. It can be difficult to see the foreign body because it often hides underneath the upper eyelid.

A scratch to the cornea can arise if a nail or a branch accidentally hit you in the eye. The cornea is the invisible membrane that covers and protects the pupil (the black part of the eye) and the iris (the coloured part of the eye). The eye becomes watery, the pupil contracts and becomes smaller and you experience strong pain in the eye. A black eye arises because of a blow to the eye and the area surrounding the eye – for example by a fist or a ball. The bleeding in the tissue around the eye becomes blue or darkly coloured, sometimes black – and this is why it is called a black eye. The discolouring disappears in a couple of weeks. Every year, fireworks cause eye injuries with both children and adults who do not wear protective goggles.

Further reading on Frequent signs.

What can you do?

If you have something in the eye, you can try to locate it and carefully remove it with a cotton bud. You can also try to wash the eye with sterile salt water. If you, after that, still feel something in the eye, you should contact the doctor. If there is blood in the eye or the eyesight is blurry, you should contact an ophthalmologist or the emergency room. Always use protective goggles when you handle something that can potentially harm your eyes and ALWAYS use protective goggles when you handle fireworks.

What can your optician do?
Remove smaller foreign objects or refer to the doctor or the ophthalmologist.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

The doctor can remove a foreign body and with a dye check for scratches to the cornea. In the case of more complicated injuries the doctor refers you to an ophthalmologist or the emergency room.

Contact the doctor immediately

The ophthalmologist can examine for foreign bodies and injuries to the cornea and treat these. In the case of eye trauma and injuries caused by fireworks and ophthalmologist can evaluate whether the inside of the eye is damaged.