Eye Injury and Blindness - Personal Injury Lawyers Compensation Claims
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Eye Injury and Blindness
Eye injuries are common. They can be relatively minor or severe, causing disruption of the globe or blindness. Eye injuries can occur anywhere but often occur in the workplace, at home or while participating in sports.
Types of Eye Injuries
There are several types of eye injuries. These include burns due to chemicals. A chemical burn is usually from a splash of liquid getting in the eye. Most chemicals are just irritants and are not capable of doing serious injury. These include things like soap, sunscreen, solvents and even tear gas. Chemicals that are alkalis or acids are the most dangerous and have the potential to cause severe injury and permanent damage to the eye. Acids include sulfuric acid, which is found in car batteries and alkalis include lye found in drain cleaner and ammonia are capable of splashing in the eye. Sometimes the injury happens when you have a chemical on your hands and rub it in your eye. The eye can become injured by an aerosol such as tear gas, Mace, hairspray or pepper spray.
A corneal abrasion is essentially a scratch across the cornea of the eye by a sharp object. It feels as though something were still in the eye when there is usually not. Sometimes a metallic foreign body can become imbedded in the cornea and can leach out “rust” from the metal into the cornea. These are more difficult to treat because the foreign body must be removed and the rust ring scraped away.
Traumatic iritis happens a blunt trauma strikes the eye and injures the structures of the eye. Blunt traumas can happen with an airbag injury, a fist or a club which damages the colored part of the eye, the iris. The iris becomes inflamed and there is pain in the affected eye.
Orbital blowout fractures occur when there is extreme force to the eye. The eye often develops a hyphema, which is bleeding into the front part of the eye. The kinds of forces involved in getting a hyphema and an orbital blowout fracture include getting kicked in the face or getting hit by a baseball in the eye. When there is a hyphema, there is blood in the anterior chamber and vision is obscured. The blowout part of an orbital blowout fracture involves breaking the thin bone at the base of the eye.
There can be lacerations to the eyelid or to the conjunctiva of the eye. These can be from sharp objects or from a fall. Both heal well. Lacerations to the cornea and sclera are very serious and need medical attention immediately. Corneal foreign bodies can be metallic, plastic, wood or glass. They have not usually penetrated the eye itself. Intraorbital foreign bodies are inside the eye socket but not in the eye. These can be flushed out. In intraocular foreign bodies, the outer wall of the eye has been penetrated by the foreign body. Corneal flash burns come from ultraviolet light and can be dangerous to the eye. Common sources of UV light are tanning booths, sunlight reflected by snow or water, or welding arcs.
Signs and Symptoms of Eye Injuries
The most common symptoms of eye injuries is intense pain and burning. Eyes will tear and in some cases, the eye will bleed. Only in a subconjunctival hemorrhage is there no pain. This involves an injury that leads to bleeding above the white part of the eye but beneath the clear part of the eye. It comes from trauma to the eye. A corneal abrasion feels like something s in the eye. In iritis, there is pain and light sensitivity. In a hyphema, there is pain and blurry vision because blood is in the anterior chamber. In an orbital blowout fracture, there is pain and double vision because a muscle gets trapped within the fracture segment. In UV related injuries, there is pain and sensitivity to light.
When to see a Doctor
Eyes are relatively delicate so if you think there has been a severe injury, you should seek medical advice immediately. The best person to see is an ophthalmologist same day appointment or a large emergency department that might have an ophthalmologist on call. An ophthalmologist is good in situations where there is a chemical exposure or an orbital blowout fracture with hyphema. Emergency room doctors can usually take care of corneal abrasions and corneal foreign bodies. They can also handle subconjunctival hematomas and lacerations of the eye.
Things that should be promptly seen by an ophthalmologist include chemical exposures, lacerations where the lid margin is cut, foreign bodies that are difficult to remove easily, and solar retinopathy.
If you sustain an eye injury you will need to start some form of treatment at home. For chemical injuries, you need to flush the affected eye with large amounts of tap water for at least twenty minutes. Keep the eye open during the flushing process. Use a shower if the person has been sprayed in the face with a chemical. If you have a subconjunctival hemorrhage, you need to avoid reinjuring the eye but there is no further treatment necessary. For corneal abrasions, there is little that can be done at home. See a doctor. For traumatic iritis, wear sunglasses to manage photophobia and see a doctor. For a hyphema, don’t lie flat. Elevate the head and keep quiet on the way to see the ophthalmologist. The same is true for orbital blowout fractures, except that you add ice to the area beneath the eye. Eye ball lacerations should be protected while you seek medical attention. Foreign bodies can be gently flushed out with water. If they don’t flush out, seek medical treatment.
Doctor’s Treatment of Eye Injuries
In chemical injuries, the doctors will likely re-irrigate the eye, sometimes using a contact lens that allows for complete irrigation. The chemical involved will probably dictate what treatment is done. In severe exposures, the pupil may be dilated with certain drops and pain medication may be prescribed. In corneal abrasions, the eye is numbed and fluorescein is used to highlight the abrasion and show up any foreign bodies. Antibiotic ointments or drops are prescribed for home use. In traumatic iritis, the eye is dilated for comfort and steroid eyedrops are prescribed. In a hyphema, the patient may need to be hospitalized with their eye elevated on bed rest. The eye is dilated for comfort. For orbital blowout fractures, ice and elevation are recommended and people are advised not to blow their noses for several days. Nasal decongestants and antibiotics are recommended for up to two weeks. Lacerations need suturing in some cases. Sometimes a repair needs to be done in the operating room.