Eye Health

13 February 2015

Common eye injuries

Eye injury can be common or complicated. Here we focus on the more trivial eye injuries.


Eye injuries range from the relatively simple, such as irritating the eye with soap, to the extremely serious, which can cause permanent loss of vision.

All kinds of outdoor (or indoor) activities can cause these injuries.

Many sports carry eye injury risks; these are some of the common conditions associated with eye injury and trauma:

•    Scratched eye (corneal abrasion): Common causes of abrasions to the eye's surface include getting poked in the eye or rubbing the eye when a foreign body is present, such as dust or sand.
•    Foreign objects in the eye: Any kind of foreign object in your eye requires urgent medical attention. Keep the eye protected and avoid rubbing it.
•    Caustic foreign substance in the eye: Getting liquid in the eye that is anything other than clean water can lead to serious eye damage if the liquid contains a chemical:

Read:  Why vision is so crucial in sports

o    Acid: Acids can cause considerable redness and burning but can be washed out fairly easily.
o    Alkali: Substances or chemicals that are alkaline are much more serious, they include oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and even chalk dust. If you're splashed in the eye, put your head under a steady stream of tepid tap water for about 15 minutes. Just let it run into your eye and down your face. Then get to the doctor.

Read: Symptoms of an eye injury

•    Eye swelling: Swollen, puffy eyelids may be a result of a blow to the eye such as from a cricket ball moving at a high speed. The best immediate treatment for this type of eye injury is an ice pack.
•    Subconjunctival haemorrhages: this involves leakage of blood from one or more breaks in a blood vessel that lies between the white of the eye (sclera) and its clear covering (conjunctiva). They’re quite common and can occur from even minor injury to the eye.
•    Traumatic iritis: this is inflammation of the coloured part of the eye that surrounds the pupil (iris) and occurs after an eye injury. It can be caused by a poke in the eye or a blow to the eye from a blunt object, such as a cricket ball and usually requires treatment.
•    Hyphemas and orbital blowout fractures: A hyphema is bleeding in the space between the cornea and the iris. An orbital blowout fracture refers to a crack or break in the facial bones surrounding the eye. Both are mainly caused by a blow to the eye such as by a ball or a bat and are considered serious injuries and require urgent treatment.

Read More:

Mark Boucher talks about the eye injury that ended his international cricketing career

The eye injury that ended Mark Boucher's cricket career

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Image: Young man with gauze bandage on his eye from Shutterstock


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Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg and is currently practising at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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