Eye Trauma

What is Eye Trauma?

Eye trauma can occur if your eye gets knocked or hit, or if you get something in your eye. The trauma may only affect the eyeball or it could also include the area around the eye, including the skin and bone structure^1^. Depending on the cause and severity of the injury, you might be able to treat it yourself; failing that, you should seek medical help.

Bumps and knocks
You may be able to self-treat a minor injury, such as a bump that only affects the front of the eye^1^. Paracetamol or ibuprofen will ease any pain^2^ and you can apply a cold compress to the area to reduce possible swelling and bruising. A bag of crushed ice or frozen peas wrapped in a towel is fine, but never apply ice directly to skin as it may burn it and cause frostbite^3^. A minor eye injury should clear up within a day, but if it doesn’t, or you are worried, you should see a GP or eye care practitioner^2^.

Something in the eye
If there are loose particles or chemicals in the eye, you need to flush it out with an eye wash or plenty of clean water for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Remove contact lenses before doing this^2^. If the eye has been in contact with chemicals, seek medical help as soon as possible after flushing. You should also seek medical help if anything is still in the eye after it has been flushed^2^.

When to seek medical help

You should seek urgent medical help at your nearest A&E if any of the following apply^2^,^4^:
  • There is sudden, persistent or severe eye pain 
  • Vision becomes distorted or you are unable to see 
  • You can see lots of flashing lights 
  • There is blood in the eye 
  • Chemicals have got into the eye
  • There are deep cuts around the eye
  • Something is stuck in the eye (do not try to remove it yourself or you may cause more damage)


The best way to prevent eye trauma is to look after your eyes and wear protective eyewear while doing things that could put your eyes at risk such as DIY, cleaning and playing sports. It’s also important to learn how to insert and take out your contact lenses properly.

1. Dr Douglas Dingwall. Synopsis of Causation – Eye Injuries. (2010) Available at: [https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/384498/eye_injuries.pdf]

2. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/E... [Last accessed 16.10.2016] 3. http://www.airedale-trust.nhs.... [last accessed 16.10.2016] 4. http://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/c... [last accessed 16.10.2016]


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