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An eye injury can happen at any time and in any place. An estimated 50 percent of injuries occur during sports and recreational activities, more often in children and teens than any other age group.
Many toys and common household objects can cause injuries to the eye, such as soccer balls, tennis balls, baseballs, pencils, pens, darts, knives, fishing hooks, scissors, paint ball guns, pellet guns, BB guns, forks, hangers, rubber bands or kitchen gadgets. Chemicals used around the home can also cause severe injury to the eye. This includes bleach, cleaning products, dishwasher detergent pods and even some soap.
Trauma to the eye can affect many different structures, including the eyelids, the bones surrounding the eye and/or the eyeball itself. Trauma can be blunt trauma, sharp penetrating trauma or chemical trauma. Blunt trauma can be caused by something like a ball or fist hitting your child in the eye. A stick or projectile object may cause sharp penetrating trauma. Chemical trauma occurs when substances like cleaning products splash in the eye or the area surrounding the eye.
Eye injuries can cause permanent vision loss and blindness, so prompt evaluation and treatment are critical. Ophthalmologists at Riley at IU Health are nationally and internationally known for expert treatment of pediatric eye diseases and injuries.
Many eye injuries are sports-related, caused by blunt trauma. These include serious injuries like an orbital blowout fracture (a broken bone under the eyeball), a ruptured globe (broken eyeball) or a detached retina. Bleeding inside the eye (hyphema) due to blunt trauma can increase pressure and lead to permanent vision loss.
Bones near the eye can be fractured if a child is hit by a ball or other blunt object, or suffers a fall with damage to the nose and cheekbone. The eyeball can be damaged as well. A scratch on the cornea can cause pain, redness and tearing. Sharp objects can cause deeper lacerations to the eye that create a risk for permanent vision loss.
An injury to the eyelid may range from mild to serious. For example, bruising of the eye and eyelid (a "black eye") is usually a less serious injury, but an eyelid injury may affect the tear ducts or even the eyeball. A cut or laceration can also injure the eyelid.
Various diagnostic tools are used to evaluate eye injuries. An X-ray or a computer tomography (CT) scan may be performed to examine eye damage, depending on the type of injury. Ultrasound may also be useful for certain kinds of eye injuries.
Ophthalmologists may place yellow dye (fluorescein) into the eye to reveal a scratched cornea. If a deeper laceration cuts the surface of the eye, there is a risk for permanent vision loss.
Seek immediate medical attention any time your child has an eye injury. While an injury may appear to be minor at first, prompt medical evaluation can limit further damage and prevent permanent vision loss or blindness.
Ophthalmologists at Riley at IU Health can assess vision function and carefully examine all the structures of the eye. Our physicians can also provide long-term care and follow-up that may be needed after an eye injury.
If a chemical splashes in your child’s eye, immediately flush the eye with water for about 15 minutes, and go to an ophthalmologist or emergency room. If a sharp object penetrates the eye (like a fish hook), do not remove it. Take your child to the emergency room as soon as possible.
Treatment for an eye or eyelid injury depends upon the type of injury. Here are a few recommendations and treatments for different types of eye injuries:
With eye injuries, frequent follow up with an ophthalmologist may be needed until the eye heals.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
This website is supported through the American Academy of Family Physicians and has public information for various eye conditions, including important information about the prevention of sports-related eye injuries.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the largest national membership association of eye doctors. Their website contains information on common pediatric eye injuries and how to prevent them at home and while playing sports. This list of articles contains information on various kinds of ocular trauma.
Our physicians are committed to excellence in pediatric ophthalmology care, demonstrated through participation in research at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Recent research explores the use of intraocular lens and secondary Artisan lens implants in children as a treatment for cataracts, new drugs to treat glaucoma, new therapies for macular degeneration and treatment of strabismus. We have also completed research in molecular biology of the chemical cycle of vision, neurophysiology of eye movements and physiology of blood flow in the eye.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.
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