Our eyes occupy less than 5% of the area of the face but yet the eye gets injured in over 60% of the time when there is trauma to the face region. Fortunately, the eye has its own protective mechanism thus reducing the severity of any injury.
The eyelids close by reflex to protect the eye whenever the eye senses an object approaching the eye.
Rotation of the Eyeball
When the eyelid shuts, the eyeball automatically rotates/rolls upwards and outwards so that the cornea (the transparent part of our eye) is no longer facing the front but safely tucked away.
Image source: Mashed
The eyelashes trap particulate objects such as dust or smoke preventing it from entering the eye.
The tear gland secretes large amounts of tears whenever a naxious substance or foreign body touches the eye so as to “wash out” and dilute the offending danger (think of the time when you cut hot chilli/onion or having an eyelash in your eye!)
The skull has 2 eye sockets called the orbit in which the eye sits in and protects the eyeball from side impact. Only objects smaller than a squash ball can penetrate the orbit socket while larger objects such as a fist or tennis ball cannot damage the eyeball.
Image source: All About Vision
As the eyeball is one of the most sensitive organs in our body, any injury causes severe symptoms of pain, light sensitivity, tearing and blurred vision. It becomes almost impossible to work or function normally until the eye heals completely due to these symptoms.
Causes of Eye Injuries
Eye injury is one of the commonest causes of blindness in the developing world due to accidents in the occupational workplace which involves hammering, grinding, staple-guns, welding or use of strong chemicals such as acid or alkali.
Image source: Club Towers
Sporting injury is also common especially with a squash ball or shuttlecock being hit directly at the eye. The amount of injury is related to the size (mass) and velocity of the object as kinetic energy = mv2. The faster the object hits the eye, the greater the damage inflicted.
Sometimes, even a leave or twig can scratch the eye when we are not careful while gardening. Adult sometimes get their eyes scratched by the little fingers of their small child or baby who is often fascinated by the moving eye. Note that they also like to grab your spectacles off your face!
Falls or motor vehicle accidents or criminal assaults are other causes of eye injuries.
Next up on Healthtips, Types of Eye Injury.
Dr. Lee Mun Wai
Dr. Adrian Tey