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Treat Common Eye Injuries the Right Way

Did you know that most eye injuries occur in the home? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma, nearly half of all reported eye injuries are caused by activities at home such as routine repairs, yard work, cleaning, and cooking. Over a third of those injuries happen in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living, or family room.

What's the best way to prevent injury? You guessed it—wear eye protection! The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma now recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear for use during projects and activities that may present risk of injury. VSP members can select from the ProTec Eyewear® safety glasses collection, all of which are certified according to ANSI requirements. Simply find an eye doctor near you who sells ProTec Eyewear® frames with lenses engineered to meet ANSI and OSHA safety guidelines.

"Wearing some type of eye protection is often the first line of defense in avoiding eye injuries," says Joel Kestenbaum, OD, a VSP network eye doctor at Optix Family Eyecare in Long Island, NY. "Safety glasses and other sports glasses come in a variety of styles and sizes, so make sure to find the right type of protection before beginning any project."

You can't prevent all eye damage, so here are some guidelines in case you're faced with an eye injury.

Common Eye Injuries

Black Eye (or other swelling)

  • Use a cold compress, but try to avoid applying pressure.
  • If pain or swelling continues, contact your doctor immediately.


  • Use eyewash or water to flush the eye out.
  • Avoid rubbing your eye and see the doctor as soon as you can.

Foreign Objects

  • Avoid rubbing your eye.
  • For small debris, like sand, use eyewash to flush the eye out.
  • For larger debris, lift the upper eyelid over the lashes of your lower lid and blink several times and allow tears to flush out the particle.
  • If the particle remains, keep your eye closed and see your doctor immediately.


  • Don't rinse with water, don't remove the object, and don't rub your eye. Avoid applying any pressure to your eye so you don't cause further damage.
  • Avoid any type of anti-inflammatory medications—these thin your blood and may cause more bleeding.
  • Shield your eye until you can see a doctor - the emergency room may be your best bet!

Sun Exposure

  • This is the easiest eye injury to avoid by wearing sunglasses or other protective eyewear when you're in the sun (even on cloudy days).
  • If you suspect your eyes are sunburned, remain in the dark for a few days and use lubricating eye drops for relief.
  • If symptoms don't improve or worsen, visit your doctor immediately.

The first rule of thumb when you have any eye injury is to avoid touching, rubbing, or putting any kind of pressure on your eye. "Even if the injury seems mild, there may be internal damage to the eye," says Dr. Kestenbaum. He recommends that you visit your eye doctor as soon as you can in any case.