Eye injuries are not uncommon, and most are not serious. However, you can never assume that being hit in the eye or getting a foreign substance in your eye is unimportant. Eye injuries can occur anywhere, whether at home, on the job, or during a sports-related event. If you or someone you know sustains an injury to one or both eyes, here are some steps to consider.

Assess the Facts

If a blow to the eye occurred, was it hard or soft? Did pain result? Is there swelling, bruising, or bleeding? Being hit by a pillow in a playful manner is very different from a baseball slamming into a person’s eye. There are many other types of injuries along that spectrum. If there is any concern about the significance of the injury, you should contact an eye doctor for immediate advice. The doctor should be able to determine by your explanation whether an immediate examination is needed at the office or in a hospital emergency room.

Move to a Quiet Area

If the injury occurs in a crowded space with other people or flying objects around, go to another place, perhaps an adjoining room, where no further injury can occur. Use clear light and careful inspection of the person’s eye and face to see the resulting injury. When calling an eye doctor, you may need to supply that information so the doctor can make a somewhat informed recommendation over the phone or online.

Provide Triage if Applicable

Injuries that are clearly minor in nature can be observed for an hour or two to ensure they do not swell or turn color. However, even seemingly minor injuries can sometimes become infected or damage the eye in various ways. That is why it is important to contact the eye doctor after determining the extent of the injury and any visible damage. Getting sand or dirt in the eye may be difficult to evaluate, and that is another situation for the eye doctor to consider.

Offer OTC Pain Relief

If the person is complaining of pain from the eye injury and waiting to hear from the doctor’s office, consider offering mild over-the-counter medication, if the person is allowed to take it, for temporary relief. A warm or cold compress may help the eye pain or swelling until further directions from the doctor are received.

Eye injuries must be taken seriously, and an eye doctor should be consulted for any questions or uncertainties. Waiting too long could allow infection to develop or lead to vision damage that may be irreparable. Spend the time, even after a minor injury to take care of your body and look after it. Such action can feel frivolous, but it can help prevent worse injuries in the future. Following the above tips should help you determine how serious an eye injury is and get the proper care for it as soon as possible. Be sure though to check in with a medical professional during this entire process. Remember, taking care of your body is important and valuable. Take the time to thoroughly look after it.