Preventing common eye injuries that happen at home
We’ve already discussed how some everyday habits can potentially harm your eyes. You might be equally surprised to learn that nearly half of all eye injuries happen at home, with most of them being preventable if the proper precautions are taken. Whether you’re taking on your latest DIY project or cooking up a storm, it’s important to keep eye safety top-of-mind.
Types of eye injuries at home
While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some types of eye injuries that can occur at home:
- Cut or scratch to the eyelid
- Corneal abrasion (scratch on the cornea)
- Bruised eyelid, or “black eye”
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage (bleeding on the sclera, or white of the eye)
- Blunt or penetrating trauma (something hitting or puncturing your eye)
- Something in the eye
- Chemical burn to the eye
Causes of eye injuries at home
You may not associate some everyday tasks as “risky” to your eyes but sometimes all it takes is a wrong movement, getting too close, or an accidental spill or splatter to cause serious harm to the eyes. For example:
- Fumes or splatter from chemicals like oven cleaner and bleach
- Splatter from hot oil when cooking)
- Drilling or hammering without protective eyewear
- Using hot objects like a hair straightener near your eyes
- Outdoor work like cutting branches or hedges
- Power tools
- DIY projects that cause dust, like sanding wood
How to treat eye injuries
If your vision is affected or you sustain a serious injury, such as a puncture wound to the eye, seek emergency medical help. Otherwise, here is a quick look at how to treat some of the most common types of eye injuries:
- Cut or scratch to the eyelid: if the cut is small, clean the area with water and apply an antibiotic ointment that is safe to use around the eyes. If the cut is bigger, seek medical attention to ensure that stitches are not needed and that no additional damage has been done to the eye itself.
- Corneal abrasion (scratch on the cornea): depending on how bad the scratch is or is suspected to be, either go see an eye doctor immediately or head to the emergency room to have your eye examined. Leaving a scratch untreated leaves your eye open to infection which can become serious if ignored. Try not to rub or touch the eye in the meantime.
- Bruised eyelid, or “black eye”: apply a cold compress or cold pack to the area, without pressing down too hard. Do this a couple times each day for the first couple of days; it should clear up within a couple of weeks.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage (bleeding on the sclera, or white of the eye): generally, no treatment is needed and it will clear up on its own after a few weeks.
- Blunt or penetrating trauma: if an object has penetrated your eye, don’t attempt to remove it. If possible, shield the eye with something like a paper cup and seek emergency medical care right away. If you have sustained a blow to the head and/or eye(s), read our blog on concussions.
- Chemical burns: generally, run water directly on your eyes for about 15 minutes and then go to an eye doctor or emergency room doctor. Try to remember what the chemical was (cleaning product name, etc.) and how it entered your eye(s): did you touch it then rub your eyes? Did it splash into your eyes? This will help the doctor better treat you.
How to prevent eye injuries at home
Most eye injuries that happen at home are preventable with some simple steps:
- Wear safety goggles when there’s a risk of something hitting your eyes (i.e. using a nail gun, woodworking, etc.)
- Practice caution when using chemicals
- Pay attention to debris like dust and branches when doing household projects and yard work
- Use a lid when cooking with hot oil
- Avoid clutter that could make you trip and fall, causing you to hit your eye