Serious eye injuries caused by a foreign object are rare. As Medical News Today reports, only two out of a thousand emergency room visits in the United States are credited to eye injuries. The bulk of those incidents are work-related. However rare, the likelihood of permanent injury depends on the location and the material that penetrates the eye.
Most of the time, things that get into our eye are harmless. Eyelashes, dust particles, dirt, sand, and makeup are the most common. The eye's natural reflex is to blink. Follow that instinct and see if that is enough to dislodge the foreign object. If it's not enough, remember these tips:
Do not rub your eye or add pressure.
Refrain from using tweezers on the eye surface.
Wash your hands before touching your eye and find a bright spot with a mirror. The bathroom is usually the best place.
To find the object, look up while pulling gently on the lower lid or look down while pulling on the upper lid.
If the object is under the upper eyelid, try the following steps:
Fill a small basin with water and immerse the side of your face with the affected eye. While your eye is under water, blink several times to flush out the object. You can also use an eyecup you can get from a drugstore.
If the object is beneath the lower eyelid, do these instead:
Pull out the lower eyelid or press down on the skin below the eyelid to see underneath it.
If you can easily spot the object, try tapping it with a damp cotton swab. If it doesn't stick to the cotton swab, try to flush it out with flowing water as you hold your eyelid open. An eyecup can be useful here, as well.
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Watch out for these symptoms if you meet an accident at work:
Pressure or discomfort
Itching, burning or irritation
Watery and red eyes
Blurred vision in the affected eye
Sensitivity to light
In extreme cases where something sharp like glass or a fragment of wood gets dislodged in your eye from an explosion, rush to the E.R. immediately. If you can manage to cover your injured eye with a paper cup, please do so.
To prevent getting things in your eye and to avoid more serious eye injuries, always wear protective eyewear when you work in dusty or windy areas and if you work with power tools, hammers, grinders, and saws. This reminder especially goes to people working in construction. Also don your protective eyewear when working with toxic chemicals. And while it may look funny, wear eye protection even when moving the lawn. Playing certain sports can also injure the eye. Wear eye gear when you play squash, ping pong or even badminton. Remember not to sleep with your contact lenses still on and clean them before and after every use.
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