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Eye Injuries

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Even though the eye is well protected in the socket, children get eye injuries. All eye injuries must be taken seriously and a doctor should evaluate most of them.

The most frequent injury is a foreign body in the eye. It can, for example, be gravel, a grain of sand or dirt that the child has gotten in the eye. The eye starts watering and the child rubs the eye repeatedly. Later, the white of the eye will turn red. It can be very difficult for a parent to spot the foreign body because it often hides beneath the upper eyelid.

Another frequent eye injury is an injury to the cornea. The cornea is the invisible membrane that covers and protects the pupil and the iris (the ‘coloured’ part of the eye). An injury to the cornea can be caused by touching of the eye, for example a fingernail or a flicking branch. The eye starts watering and the pupil (the black spot) gets smaller – try comparing with the size of the black spot in the healthy eye. Typically, the child will complain about strong pains in the eye.

A black eye is also frequent. It is caused by a blow to the eye – for example, an arm or a fist. The area around the eye colours because the blow leads to light haemorrhaging under the skin and blood turns blue and eventually black.

Click here to read about how you evaluate your child

What can you do?

If the child complains that it has something in the eye, you can try to find it. If you can see the foreign body, you can remove it by using a cotton bud.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If the child complains about still feeling something in the eye.

Contact the doctor immediately

If there is blood inside the eye. If the child cannot see clearly. If there is prolonged pain in the eye. If the pupil of the injured eye is smaller than that of the healthy eye.