What To Do When Your Child Hurts Their Eye

If your child complains about getting something in their eye, you need to act quickly before they damage their vision. Knowing what to do can reduce the risk of serious or permanent eye injury. Here are some of the most common childhood eye injuries and how to deal with them before you take your child to the emergency room.

1. Small particles in the eye

Your child can easily get dust or dirt in their eye while playing outside. They'll often come to you rubbing their eye complaining that it hurts.

  • Wipe around the eye gently with a damp washcloth.
  • Open both eyelids and try to see the irritating object.
  • With your child's head over the sink, slowly pour warm water over the eye to flush the object out.
  • Apply eye drops to sooth their irritated eye.
  • If your child still complains about something in their eye, go to the emergency room where the doctor will use an ophthalmoscope to look into the eye for the object.

2. Large object in the eye

Your child trips and falls with a pencil in their hand. The pencil becomes lodged in their eye. This will look horrendous to you, but you need to stay calm and act quickly to prevent serious damage to your child's sight.

  • Don't try to remove the object and keep your child from touching it.
  • Cover the eye with a clean cloth and hold it in place.
  • Get your child to an emergency room quickly.

An eye surgeon will determine whether the object has slid past the eye and is lodged in the eye socket, or has penetrated the eyeball itself. Surgery may be required to remove the object and save your child's eye.

3. Scratches on the eye

If an object grazes your child's eye and they complain that it hurts and their vision is blurry, they may have a cut or scratch on their eye.

  • Keep your child from rubbing the eye.
  • Place a clean cloth over the eye and hold in place.
  • Get your child to the emergency room.

The doctor may put a dye in the eye to help them observe any scratches on the surface. The eyeball will heal by itself with the help of antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection.

4. Getting hit on the eye

While playing, your child falls and hits their eye on the coffee table. The eye and skin around it is black and blue and your child complains of pain.

The typical "black eye" is caused by bruising of the skin and will heal on its own. It's more serious if there is a fracture of the bones around the eye. Some of the symptoms of this will be:

  • the skin is broken around the eye
  • the area around the eye is painful when touched
  • the eye is swollen
  • the affected eye doesn't move with the other eye

Cover the eye with a clean cloth and take your child to the emergency room. The doctors will x-ray your child's skull to determine if there is a fracture present. Minor fractures will heal on their own but a severe fracture may require surgery.

It can be shocking when your child comes to you with an eye injury. Stay calm and react quickly to prevent more damage to the eye before you can get your child to the doctor.

For more information about eye care, contact a professional like Todd S. Kirk, MD.