First Aid For Eye Injuries

Last Editorial Review: 6/29/2005
The Cleveland Clinic

Accidents happen and when they do, it is important to know how to handle them. Here are some first aid tips for eye injuries from doctors at The Cleveland Clinic.

First Aid for Chemical Exposure

  • If you wear contact lenses , remove them immediately. Keeping them in your eyes may hold the chemical against the cornea, causing unnecessary damage and pain.
  • If you suspect chemicals have entered your eye, begin flushing it immediately with cool water and continue to do so for approximately 15 minutes.
  • Seek immediate medical attention by dialing 9-1-1 or going to the nearest emergency room. If possible, take the container of the offending substance with you so that you can tell your doctor what you have been exposed to.
First Aid When You Have Something in Your Eye

If you have an object in your eye, do not irritate your eye by rubbing it. You may try to remove the particle if it is not embedded in the eye. But, follow these first aid tips first.

  • First wash you hands thoroughly with soap and water. This will prevent further contamination or infection.
  • Try flushing the eye. Using your finger and thumb, gently pull the upper eyelid down over the top of the lower eyelid. This should cause tearing and flush the object out. You may need to repeat this several times.
  • If you can see the object, you may try to remove it with a washcloth. Gently lift the upper or lower eyelid, and use a clean, wet washcloth to wipe the object away. If this does not work, seek immediate medical attention.

Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute.

Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, WebMD, October 2004.

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