What are the most common injuries to the eye?

An eye injury can be mild to severe. Among the most common eye injuries are:

  • Black eye: A blow to the eye or the tissue around it causes a black eye. There is bruising, swelling, and pain around the eye. An eyelid may also be cut. The swelling interferes with vision.
  • Bleeding in the eye: An eye surface hemorrhage (bleeding) can result from straining too hard (such as during a cough) or from trauma to the eye. Subconjunctival hemorrhages occur when blood appears in the skin covering the white part of the eye (sclera). The corneal and iris (the transparent and colored parts of the eye) can also pool blood. This bleeding is called a hyphema.
  • Burns and irritation: Chemicals, fumes and other irritants can burn or damage the eye, leading to vision loss.
  • Objects such as fingernails, contact lenses, foreign objects, and other objects can scratch the cornea. Your cornea is the clear translucent portion of your eye. Corneal abrasions are painful, cause sensitivity to light, and make the eyes water.
  • A foreign object can cause vision problems and eye pain if it lodges in the eye. Foreign objects such as dirt, sawdust, and shattered glass are the most common foreign objects in the eye. If contact lenses are left in the eye for a long time, they can cause injury to the eye.
  • Bruising or trauma to the bones surrounding the eye can cause a fracture in the orbital (eye socket). A blow to the eye or an object hitting the eye can cause an orbital fracture. Bones within the eye socket shatter in an orbital blowout fracture. Eye muscles may stretch, tear or become trapped. This is particularly dangerous for children.
  • Permanent vision loss can be caused by a detached retina. This usually occurs as a result of aging or trauma to the eye. When the retina (thin tissue covering the back of the eye) pulls away from the wall, a detached retina occurs.

Who is at risk of an eye injury?

Eye injuries can happen to anyone. Especially when playing sports or doing other recreational activities, kids and teenagers are more likely to suffer eye injuries. Football and hockey, for example, are contact sports with a high risk of eye injuries. Baseball and softball players are more likely to have an eye injury from a flying ball.

The risks of an eye injury on the job are higher for construction workers, those who work around chemicals, lasers, and potential irritants. At home, you can sustain eye injuries while doing yard work, cooking, cleaning, or setting off fireworks.