Kids’ Eye Emergencies & What you Need to Know
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, shooting darts, and swinging bats or rackets.
Even peaceful recreation, such as lying by the poolside or on the beach, can lead to eye irritation from sand or burns from overexposure to strong sunrays. Diving into the waves or slipping and sliding at a waterpark are a fantastic and fun way to cool off. However, wet and wild action can also lead to eye infection from chemicals, or eye injury from crashing into a stray elbow poking out.
As a secondary care provider, our ophthalmologists usually aren't the first eye care professional you'll see if your child runs into any of these issues. Keep reading to learn how to limit your risk of needing our help in the first place, and how to treat minor eye ailments. And if you have to see us, we want you to know your children's eyes are in good hands!
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, especially in the summer. 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.
Symptoms to watch out for include:
- Redness (bloodshot eyes)
- Bleeding, or other unusual discharge from the eye
- Itchy eyes
- 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 occurred, the above symptoms are all red flags to be taken seriously!
First Aid for Parents to Do
Before you reach out to an eye care professional for very minor eye injuries, there are some helpful actions to take at home. Keep these guidelines handy:
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. Don't have an optometrist? Contact us and we'll put you in touch with somebody great locally who can help.
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. Hours spent in a heavily chlorinated pool or ducking waves at the beach can also lead to red, irritated eyes. In addition, the camp arts and crafts 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 an optometrist for guidance on how to proceed - and if you don't know one, reach out to us and we'll put you in touch with somebody who can help.
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. Accidents happen, but if you follow these tips, you can help reduce the chance of them happening or making them worse.