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How to Cope with Kids’ Eye Emergencies

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Akron Families Focus on Safe Winter Sight

Winter brings a long stretch of days spent indoors without the opportunity to run around outside. This often results in accidents like ball injuries from playing ball inside, banging into doors and tables or other inside hazards. Fun and exercise is healthy and productive, yet it’s wise to also play it safe.

As your kid-friendly optometrists in Akron, OH, we provide emergency eye care for many children each winter. While eye injury and eye infection may be common for kids who are in a closed space, there are various ways to lower their risk and prevent many eye emergencies.

What are typical pediatric eye emergencies?

Eyes and their surrounding skin are some of the most delicate organs in the body. Many classic sports moves put children’s eyes in the line of danger, such as whizzing balls, horsing around with friends, and climbing on furniture.

Even outdoor recreation, such as playing in the snow, can lead to eye irritation from snow, rain or allergies. The sun is also a concern because many people do not wear sunglasses in the winter. This is a mistake as UV rays are harmful even during cooler months.

Our optometrist commonly treats these eye emergencies in kids:

  • Cuts or scratches on the eye or eyelid
  • Eye infection, such as pink eye
  • Blunt injury to the eye or eyelid
  • Exposure to chemicalsa
  • Objects stuck in the eye
  • Burns

How do I know if my kid has an eye emergency?

Every parent has faced the confusing question how bad is it? Kids come home with scrapes and bruises all the time. You don’t want to overreact with a mad dash to the emergency room, yet you also don’t want to ignore a potentially serious medical problem. Without attention from a qualified eye doctor, some types of eye injury and eye infection can lead to vision loss and future complications.

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Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Redness (bloodshot eyes)
  • Bleeding, or other unusual discharge from the eye
  • Itchy eyes
  • Bruising
  • Eye pain
  • Stinging or burning
  • Pupils of unequal size
  • Double vision, reduced vision, or loss of vision
  • Sensation of something stuck in the eye
  • Sensitivity to light

Even if you are unaware of any trauma or injury that occured, the above symptoms are all red flags to be taken seriously! Call our Akron eye doctor for urgent assistance.

First Aid for Parents to Do

Before you reach our optometrist or for very minor eye injuries, there are some helpful actions to take at home. Keep these guidelines handy:

Black eye

It often feels like there is a magnetic attraction between balls, bats, sticks, stones and children’s eyes! A direct hit to the eye or face can cause a black eye – basically a bruise from bleeding under the skin. The best thing you can do is gently apply cold compresses to your kid’s eye (with no pressure) as soon as possible. Then contact us for medical assistance. Our eye doctor will check for any vision damage.

Irritated eyes from contact with chemicals

Applying sunscreen to the face can be tricky, and generous amounts will easily smear into your child’s eyes. In addition, using art supplies in a closed room can be another source of potentially hazardous substances, such as paint thinner and fixative sprays.

If your child gets any of these chemicals in his or her eyes, rinse the eye/s out immediately with clean, cool water. Hold the eyelid open under a sink faucet for about 15 minutes. (If you need to rinse both eyes, a shower works best.) Afterwards, call our Akron optometrist for guidance on how to proceed – we’ll need to know exactly what solution contacted the eye.

Foreign object stuck in the eye

If you’re dealing with a tiny object, such as a stray eyelash or grain of sand, the eye will typically handle it naturally through blinking and tears. When you need to provide help, the best thing to do is wash your hands and inspect your kid’s eyes. If you see the object, flush it out with clean water. If you cannot see the offending item, contact our office to bring your child in for urgent treatment. Our eye doctor is qualified and experienced to remove foreign objects.

However, if the object (such as a wood shaving from carpentry workshop) appears to have penetrated the surface of your child’s eyes, do not attempt to remove it! Only a professional who is trained in emergency eye care should remove the foreign body. Seek medical attention immediately, as a delay can lead to complications or vision loss.

Top Tips for Pediatric Eye Emergencies

Rule no. 1:  with all types of eye injury or infection, it’s critical to tell your kids not to rub their eyes! Rubbing eyes can spread the harmful substance, inflame already irritated eyes, and make every condition worse.

How can you help keep your kids safe from eye emergencies? Our best advice is to equip your child with protective eye gear. Make sure they wear sunglasses year round and use protective eyewear when needed.