9 ways to prevent eye injuries

It's all fun and games until someone injures an eye.

Whether the cause is an airborne toy, a splashing chemical or a sports-related collision, eye injuries are more common than you might think. Luckily, a few easy safety tips can help protect your eyes.

Add these eye-saving tips to your daily life:

  • Use a splatter shield. Cooking bacon or other foods can send oil popping from the pan.
  • Keep chemicals out of reach of children. Oven cleaner, bleach and other cleaners are harmful not only to drink but also to rub into eyes.
  • Wear gloves or wash hands. Immediately after using chemicals like cleaners, wash your hands.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. Debris on your hands can be easily transferred into your eyes.
  • Wear protective glasses. Put a protective layer between your eyes and hammers, power tools, lawn mowers and chain saws. Safety glasses or goggles are also important during certain sports, like racquetball or games with flying discs.
  • Keep your distance from others. If others are using power tools, stand back to avoid flying debris.
  • Point corked bottles away. When opening celebratory beverages, aim the bottle away from you and others. Ideally, open corked bottles outdoors to prevent the cork from bouncing off a wall.
  • Keep bungee cords at an arm's length. Snapping bungee cords are a common cause of eye injuries, so stand back.
  • Supervise children. Until children are old enough to use sharp objects safely, keep a close watch on kids who are using pens, scissors, forks or knives.

When to get medical care

Despite your best efforts, eye injuries may still happen. Seek urgent care if you experience:

  • Sudden changes in vision. Floaters (stringlike black or gray spots that drift in your vision), flashes of light or blurred vision.
  • Chemicals in your eye. If you experience stinging, burning, redness, pain, blurry vision, or swollen eyelids, flush your eyes with water. Don't wipe or rub your eyes. If possible, take a picture of the chemical bottle to show your doctor.
  • A cut or puncture. Don't touch or wash your eye. Cover it with a protective shield, like the end of a clean paper cup. Don't take aspirin or ibuprofen, as they can worsen bleeding.

If you get a blow to your eye, like a hit with a baseball, try a cold compress. Then seek medical care.

If metal, glass or another sharp object gets in your eye, don't rub or touch it. Instead, use water, a saline solution or eye drops to try to flush it out. Seek medical care if the pain doesn't go away.

  1. Eye emergencies. Mayo Clinic Health Letter. Mayo Clinic. March 2021.