Ask the Eye Docs: What Should I Do If I Get Something in My Eye?
For more than a decade, board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. William Segal and consultative optometrist Dr. Marc Lay at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons have provided a wide array of eye care services to patients all across the southeast, ranging from routine vision and comprehensive medical eye exams to advanced eye disease treatment and LASIK vision correction surgery. In the latest installment of our ongoing blog feature, Ask the Eye Docs, our experienced eye-care specialists will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about eyesight and vision care.
QUESTION: I have three small children, all boys, and they are constantly running around and playing outside, getting minor cuts and bruises. While I understand that this is completely natural and even healthy, I am sometimes concerned that they might injure themselves in a way that my husband or I cannot easily treat. Specifically, I worry that they might seriously damage their eyesight. What would you recommend that I do if a foreign object damages or even gets lodged in one of their eyes?
ANSWER: The eyes are delicate and complicated organs, and there are many different ways that they might be damaged. Fortunately, even though eye injuries can be irritating and a little frightening, they will very rarely result in permanent damage as long as the correct treatment is rendered promptly. When they are exposed to airborne particles of dust, sand, wood, plastic, or other foreign material, the eyes will naturally produce tears to wash that material out. However, this debris may also scratch the cornea, and if that scratch becomes infected a corneal ulcer may develop, causing redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and intense pain.
- If one of your children gets foreign material lodged in their eye, we recommend that you:
- Keep them from rubbing the eye, as this may push the foreign material deeper into the eye and increase the likelihood of scratching the cornea.
- Natural tear production should help wash the eye clean. However, if this proves insufficient, thoroughly rinse the eye with sterile eyewash.
- If a larger piece of debris has penetrated the cornea, do NOT attempt to wash the eye or to remove anything that is stuck in it.
- Instead, cover the eye loosely with a cloth or even a plastic cup in order to prevent further injury and then seek immediate medical attention.
Young children’s eyes can change quickly, and treating vision conditions can often depend on catching the problem early. That is why we recommend that children should generally have their first eye exam at six months of age, and that after that initial examination they should undergo comprehensive medical eye exams at age three and again at the start of school. School-age children should continue to have their vision evaluated regularly, approximately every one to two years during primary health care visits, in schools, or at public screenings.
Keeping your eyesight sharp requires diligent eye care, and establishing good eye care habits in your children now can potentially save them difficulties down the line. If you have any concerns about your children’s eyesight, or about your own, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons to make an appointment with Dr. William Segal or Dr. Marc Lay to schedule an eye exam. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more information on how to keep your vision clear and healthy.