Knowing what to do for an eye emergency can save valuable time and possibly prevent vision loss. Here are some instructions for basic eye injury first aid.

Be Prepared

  • Wear eye protection for all hazardous activities and sports-at school, home, and on the job.
  • Stock a first aid kit with a rigid eye shield and commercial eyewash before an eye injury happens.
  • DO NOT assume that any eye injury is harmless. When in doubt, see a doctor immediately.

Chemical Burns to the Eye

In all cases of eye contact with chemicals:

  • Immediately flush the eye with water or any other drinkable liquid. Hold the eye under a faucet or shower, or pour water into the eye using a clean container. Keep the eye open and as wide as possible while flushing. Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes.
  • DO NOT use an eyecup.
  • If a contact lens is in the eye, begin flushing over the lens immediately. This may wash away the lens.
  • DO NOT bandage the eye.
  • Seek immediate medical treatment after flushing.

Specks in the Eye

  • DO NOT rub the eye
  • Try to let tears wash the speck out or use an eyewash.
  • Try lifting the upper eyelid outward and down over the lower lid.
  • If the speck does not wash out, keep the eye closed, bandage it lightly, and see a doctor.

Blows to the Eye

  • Apply a cold compress without putting pressure on the eye. Crushed ice in a plastic bag can be taped to the forehead to rest gently on the injured eye.
  • In cases of pain, reduced vision, or discoloration (black eye), seek emergency medical care. Any of these symptoms could mean internal eye damage.

Cuts and Punctures of the Eye or Eyelid

  • DO NOT wash out the eye with water or any other liquid.
  • DO NOT try to remove an object that is stuck in the eye.
  • Cover the eye with a rigid shield without applying pressure. The bottom half of a paper cup can be used.
  • See a doctor at once.