The eye is a very sensitive organ, because even a small object such as dust can cause extreme or permanent damage such as blindness. Thus, it is important, especially for parents, to know what to do in cases of eye emergencies to prevent further infection or damage to the eyes.
Common eye emergencies include having a foreign object in the eye, chemical injury and eyelid and eye cuts. Injured eyes can experience loss, decreased, or double vision, sensitivity to light, itchiness, pain, and stinging or burning sensations. Injured eyes can also appear bloodshot or red, and the pupils may become of unequal size.
Where a person gets a foreign object in his eye or eyelid and the eye has not cleared itself of the object within a reasonable time through multiple blinking and producing of tears, the person with the injured eye should not rub it. Another person with clean hands can check and examine the eye properly to look for the object. He can ask the patient to look in different directions so that the area around the eye can be more visible. He can also pull down the lower eyelid gently or use cotton buds to flip the upper eyelid to see if the object is inside the lid. The foreign object, whether it is found on the eye or on an eyelid, can be flushed out with water. If the object is found on the eyelid, it can also be gently removed by a cotton-tipped swab. However, one must be careful not to touch the eye itself using the cotton swab.
Where an object has already been embedded in the eye, one must not try to remove it anymore. Both eyes must be bandaged instead, using a clean cloth or gauze. If the imbedded object is large, a paper cup can be placed and taped over the eye. It would also be helpful if both eyes are bandaged even though only one eye is injured, for this would prevent the patient from looking in every direction and avoid eye movement. The patient must then be immediately brought to a hospital.
Having chemicals in the eye is very dangerous, and a person must seek medical help immediately to help the injured person. While waiting for medical help, the eye should be flushed with running and cool tap water for at least fifteen minutes. If the injured person is wearing contact lenses, they should be removed after having running water flush the eye.
Where the eye is bleeding or swelling, cold compresses can be applied to stop bleeding and to reduce swelling.