Different Types of Eye Injuries and Emergencies
Types of Eye Injuries
Any event that damages the eye or the area around the eye can have a lasting impact on vision and appearance.
Traumatic eye injuries include corneal abrasions, penetrating injuries, retinal detachments, and orbital fractures.
In all types of traumatic eye injuries, there is an event or series of events that lead to damage to some part of the eye.
It is important to recognize these injuries and take the correct action to treat them appropriately as many require emergency treatment.
Corneal abrasions are small scratches on the cornea, on the front of the eye. These abrasions are often extremely painful.
A corneal abrasion can be caused by anything that comes into contact with the front of the eye to scratch the cornea.
Common causes of corneal abrasions are fingernails or animal claws, plant branches, or a foreign object in the eye.
If you get a corneal abrasion, it is likely that the eye that was scratched will be very painful, red, and may cause lots of tearing.
The best treatment for corneal abrasions is allowing the cornea to heal itself within a few days. However, it is important to have an eye doctor evaluate the injury to make sure that there is no infection, no foreign object in the eye, and that the cause of the pain is a corneal abrasion.
In most cases, a corneal abrasion is not an emergency and can be treated by your optometrist within a day rather than requiring a visit to the emergency room.
A penetrating injury to the eye occurs when an object punctures the cornea or sclera of the eyeball. These injuries are serious and need careful treatment.
These injuries can be caused by anything that has the power and shape to puncture the eye, including BBs, fishing hooks, and knives.
A penetrating injury is often an emergency that needs immediate treatment and may require a visit to the emergency room if an eye doctor is not available.
A retinal detachment is an injury that occurs in the back of the eye. The layer of the eye that is responsible for vision can break free from the rest of the eye in a retinal detachment.
Causes of a retinal detachment include a forcible hit to the head, a disease that affects the retina, or aging in some cases.
The main symptoms are a loss of vision, flashes of light, or presence of floaters.
A retinal detachment is either an emergency or near emergency depending on the amount of vision remaining.
It is recommended that a retinal specialist evaluate the retinal detachment within a day or two of the onset.
An orbital fracture, or blowout fracture, is a broken bone around the eye which causes the eye socket to collapse.
Causes of a blowout fracture are typically related to impact to the head or eye. Car accidents, boxing, or falls are all common causes of an orbital fracture.
A fracture will typically require emergent care initially and will need extensive follow up care as well. In many cases, surgery may be indicated to repair the fracture.
How to Determine if the Eye Injury is an Emergency
Determining if an eye injury is a true emergency can be difficult. For that reason, it is recommended that if you feel there is a chance that the injury requires immediate medical attention, treat it like a true emergency.
When receiving treatment for an eye injury, always maintain communication with your primary eye doctor as well as any other medical professionals treating the injury.
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