One of the worst places on the body to be injured is the eye. If you have lived with the ability to see your whole life, the thought of becoming blind is terrifying. Not to mention, eye pain is one of those pains that hits you at the core. To add to the scary factor, small irritants can become serious injuries if they are ignored or treated improperly. So, how can you protect the eyes and, if they do get injured, reduce the injury and help prevent loss of sight?
First, like anything else we are prone to do, protection is paramount. Wear your safety glasses whenever you are working with machinery, in windy conditions, or doing anything else that could blow or throw debris into your face and eyes. By avoiding the injury in the first place, you are ahead of the game.
For whatever reason, people still get their eyes injured all the time. They forget their glasses, or take them off “for just a second” to get a better look at something. Now “Doc” has to go and figure out what type of injury you have and go about fixing it.
So, let’s look at injury types and how to treat them:
Foreign bodies: This is a fancy way of saying “you got some crap in your eye.” This should be your first thought if they complain of eye pain or a burning sensation and there is nothing poking out of the eye and they weren’t messing with chemicals or anything weird.
Have them lightly close both eyes. This will help to keep them from moving their eyeballs around too much and making more scratches. Gently lift open the eyelid on one eye and exam the eye for debris. This is easier to do in low light areas while you shine a dim light into the eye. You may have to ask them to look up, down, left, and right to see the object. Try to avoid this, but you may have to. If you see any debris in the eye, you will want to flush the eye with a significant amount of clean water or saline solution. To do this, have them tip their head so that the eye to be flushed is on the downward side. Then you will squirt the water/saline into the eye from the inside corner. The water stream should be strong enough to push out any junk in the eye but not so hard as to hurt them. This method will also prevent debris flushed from one eye from going into the other eye.
Abrasions: Abrasions are likely if you flushed the eyes but they still complain of pain, or they complain of eye pain that is made worse by light and the pain almost goes away in the dark.
There is little you can do for an abrasion in the field other than keep it from getting worse and reducing pain a bit. You will flush the eye as instructed above to help clear out any possible debris. Then you will apply an eye patch to help keep light away from the eye and to keep them from moving the eye around to look at stuff. If it is practical, place a patch over the uninjured eye as well. Eyes move together, so if one eye isn’t covered and is looking around, the covered eye will move too.
Impaled object/penetrating injury: If you see something stuck in the eyeball… that is bad. If it looks like something was stuck in the eye and has come out, that is worse. If any fluid from the eye is lost, it can never be replaced.
If the object is still in place, try to stabilize it with some moist gauze. Whether the object is still there or not, you will place an eye patch over both eyes and get them to a hospital as soon as possible. You may want to give them some ibuprofen to reduce the swelling.
Burns: This is a very, very bad thing to happen to an eye. If it is from a fire, that’s better than from chemicals or radiation.
If chemicals are involved, make sure you are gloved up and have a mask and goggles on. You will then try to brush away as much of the chemical as possible. You will then flush the eye with LOTS of water. Like a gallon or more. Do this in a way to reduce the amount of water that runs down the face and make sure NO water can get into the other eye. Then dry the face and the area around the eye by gently dabbing. Place a dry eye patch on both eyes. If the burn is from radiation or a heat source, remove them from the danger. For heat burn, cool the area with clean water. You will then patch both eyes. No matter what the burn is from, they need a hospital as soon as possible.
By taking quick action, you can reduce the odds that a victim with an eye injury will lose their sight. Treat all eye injuries as a big deal, because even the smallest injury can quickly become bad.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.