So, what are the most common types of eye injuries? By far the most common is a corneal abrasion. That is a scratch to the front (the clear part) of your eye. Most people would have experienced how painful and debilitating this can be. As it waters profusely making it difficult to see, while also being extremely painful. These injuries can turn quite nasty depending on what caused the injury, how large or deep the abrasion is. For example, injuries caused by vegetation can lead to fungal infections that are both difficult to diagnose and treat.
Common causes of corneal abrasions include fingernails, twigs, and branches, along with flying debris hitting the eye. Just to name a few. This is an incredibly common accidental eye injury that is observed in all age groups and genders.
So how do we avoid such injuries? Well, the obvious answer is to wear eye protection. But will any eye protection do? As there are so many different products available, how do you know what is the right one for you?
Eye protection will range from wrap-around safety glasses (clear or tinted) to full safety goggles. There are also some inferior products on the market that may not meet Australian safety standards. Please be careful to always make sure that you are buying a respected brand not a knockoff as the sense you are risking is your sight. Therefore, you need to think about the task you are about to perform and what the risks may be and chose eye protection that negates that risk. For example, if you are mowing safety glasses may not provide enough protection from the dust and debris thrown up by the mower and if this mower is a ride-on, then low-hanging branches also need to be protected against.
The second most common eye injury is penetrating eye injuries or those including foreign objects in the eye. This type of injury is a very common type of workplace eye injury. Many people need to get metal, glass, or timber removed from their eyes. Though many other foreign bodies also occur including bugs.
In my experience, most of these types of injuries are caused while grinding, which results in a metal foreign body lodging in the eye. Please note if this happens to you that you need to see your Optometrist or doctor within the first 24 hours as rust is created around the metal if the metal isn’t removed from the eye rapidly. These rust rings can be visually debilitating and painful on their own.
How do you protect against this type of eye injury? You need to be wearing the correct eye protection for the task at hand, particularly when using a grinder.
The third most common type of eye injury is a chemical eye injury. These can range in severity from too much chlorine in the swimming pool, corneal burn to an alkaline burn that can completely melt the cornea. People working with chemicals need to be safe and think about their eye protection. Along with the importance of washing their hands before touching their faces after working with chemicals.
The fourth most common eye injury is swelling of the eye. This is generally due to an impact injury around the eye area. These can be due to a ball, hand, fist, or other impacts to the eye area. These are generally traumatic, and the eyelids swell and change colour. Please be aware if you have had a significant impact on the orbit that you need to have it investigated as retinal tears and detachments can commonly occur from these types of injuries.
If you happen to see flashes of light or things floating across your vision, please don’t wait to have your eye health investigated. Another sign that something is amiss after an impact injury is blood pooling in the front or interior of the eye itself. If you hear a waterfall sound in your ear, go and visit the hospital Emergency Room.
The fifth most common eye injury is a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Now most of us will have to experience a small bleed at the front of our eye (under the clear conjunctiva – they can look quite scary but are just a bruise). These can be spontaneous (you find one on waking) or occur after sneezing or lifting something heavy or even the removal of too-tight swimming goggles. Some people do find that they seem to have one blood vessel that bleeds quite regularly.
A subconjunctival hemorrhage is just a bruise that happens under a clear layer (the conjunctiva) which means it is much more visible than those that happen under your skin. It takes about 10 days to resolve. We only need to worry about these if they keep getting larger or we can’t see the edge.