There are a few types of eye injury which one should be aware of which can be caused by sharp edge objects, welding, grinding, chemical and blow-out fracture.
1) Corneal Abrasion
Any object with a sharp edge (even finger nail, leaf or paper) can scrape the skin (called the epithelium) of the cornea causing a cornea abrasion. The epithelium takes an average of 5 to 10 days to heal back and until then, the patient will suffer symptoms of pain, discomfort, and feeling of something in the eye, watering, blurred vision and light sensitivity.
The eye needs to be padded with an antibiotic ointment for the first 1-2 days and then antibiotic ointment 2-3 times a day for at least 2 weeks. There is a risk of the abrasion to recur again ( a condition called corneal erosion) and as such, it is advisable to continue the ointment on a nightly basis for at least 6 months to prevent it.
2) Corneal Foreign Body
During welding or grinding, there is usually a lot of debris and sparks emitted and can easily hit the eye. As the velocities of these particles are generally slow, they do not penetrate the eye but gets embedded onto the cornea. They cause discomfort, watering and red eyes.
The particles need to be removed or else they will get infected. After removal, there will always be a scar at the injury site.
3) Penetrating Foreign Body
When an object which is sharp enough and traveling fast enough hits the eye, it will penetrate the eye and lodge inside. In such cases, the prognosis is poor as there will have been a lot of internal damage.
Urgent surgery is required to remove the object and repair the wound.
4) Hyphaema (blood in the eye)
When the eye is hit hard enough, the blood vessels in the eye may bleed resulting in a hyphaema. This may cause the eye pressure to rise resulting in glaucoma. The patient should avoid all strenuous activities and have strict bed rest to prevent further bleeding (which can happen within the first 3-4 days of the injury).
The blood usually takes between 7-14 days to subside and the vision may not return to normal as there may be damage to the lens or pupil causing problem with focusing. There is also a risk of glaucoma and this patient should have a yearly check up for life.
5) Chemical Injury
Fluids used for in any industry as either acid or alkali. Both are damaging to the eye and the higher the concentration, the more severe the injury. Even toilet cleaner or household bleach can cause severe damage to the eye and should therefore be kept away from children’s hands.
The eye must be irrigated with clean running water or at least 5 minutes to wash away as much chemical as possible. The patient has to be admitted to a hospital to allow the eye doctors to apply medication, lubrication and vitamins to encourage the eye to heal. Sometimes in very severe cases, the scarring is so extensive that the patients do not regain their vision.
6) Blow-out Fracture
When a blunt trauma (such as a punch) is of sufficient strength, the impact can cause the orbital floor to fracture. Some fractures can cause one of the eye muscles to be trapped resulting in the eye not being able to move fully causing double vision.
Surgery is required to repair the fracture and free up the eye muscle.
To conclude, we believe that prevention of eye injury can save many unnecessary suffering. People working in hazardous conditions must remember to wear their protective goggles at all times while welder must wear their masks.Sportsman can now choose from a variety of protective eyewear which offer protection and yet remain stylish.
Remember, prevention is better than cure.
Dr. Lee Mun Wai
Dr. Adrian Tey