Symptoms and Signs of Eye Injuries

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 8/31/2021

Doctor's Notes on Eye Injuries

Eye injuries can be minor, such as getting soap in an eye, loss of vision, or loss of the eye. Eye injuries can occur anywhere - at home, in the workplace, from other accidents, or while participating in sports.

Symptoms of eye injure depend on the type of injury.

  • Symptoms of eye injures due to chemical exposure include pain or intense burning, profuse tearing, eye redness, and swollen eyelids.
  • Symptoms of eye injury due to subconjunctival hemorrhage (bleeding) include a red spot of blood on the sclera (the white part of the eye).
  • Symptoms of eye injures due to corneal abrasions include pain, a sensation that something is in the eye, tearing, and sensitivity to light.
  • Symptoms of eye injures due to iritis include pain, light sensitivity, and excessive tearing.
  • Symptoms of eye injures due to hyphema (bleeding in the eye) include pain and blurred vision.
  • Symptoms of eye injures due to orbital blowout fracture include pain, especially with movement of the eyes; a double vision that disappears when one eye is covered; and eyelid swelling which may worsen after nose blowing; numbness of the upper lip on the affected side; and swelling around the eye and bruising (black eye).
  • Symptoms of eye injures due to conjunctival lacerations include pain, redness, and a sensation that something is in the eye.
  • Symptoms of eye injury due to lacerations to the cornea and the sclera include decreased vision and pain.
  • Symptoms of eye injury due to foreign bodies in the eye include a sensation that something is in the eye, tearing, blurred vision, light sensitivity, decreased vision, eye pain, double vision or decreased vision.
  • Symptoms of eye injures due to light-induced injuries include pain, light sensitivity, redness, an intense feeling something is in the eye, and decreased vision with a small area of central blurring.

What Is the Treatment for Eye Injuries?

The treatment of an eye injury depends on the type of injury and the severity of the injury. Common types of eye injuries and the treatments include:

  • Lacerations
    • Depending on the size and location of the laceration, stitches or dermal glue may be necessary
    • If the cut is very small or superficial, the laceration may be left to heal on its own 
    • Lacerations to the eyeball often require consultation with an ophthalmologist (an eye specialist), antibiotics, sutures, and more extensive surgery in an operating room
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage
    • Treatment consists of reassurance, avoidance of rubbing the eye, and time
  • Corneal abrasions:
    • Numbing eye drops are often used to help examine the eye
    • Antibiotic drops
    • Pain medications
    • An eye patch may be used
  • Traumatic iritis
    • Eyedrops are used to dilate the pupil
    • Steroid eye drops may be helpful to decrease inflammation
    • Consultation and follow-up with an ophthalmologist
  • Chemical exposure
    • The eye must be irrigated thoroughly, possibly with a special device resembling a contact lens used for continuous eye irrigation (called a Morgan lens)
      • The chemical involved and severity of the injury will dictate the treatment
    • The pupil may be dilated 
    • Pain medicine 
  • Hyphema
    • Significant hyphemas may require hospitalization and patients are placed on bed rest with their heads elevated to help to heal
    • The pupil is dilated with drops and eye pressure is monitored closely
    • Consultation and follow-up with an ophthalmologist
  • Orbital blowout fractures
    • Ice and elevation of the head for 48 hours are recommended to reduce swelling 
    • Patients are advised not to blow their nose, as it may cause further problems
    • Nasal decongestants and oral antibiotics for one to two weeks
    • Any surgical repair is usually done a few days to one week later when the swelling has gone down

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REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.