BLUNT TRAUMA TO THE EYE

What to do?

Generally, a blunt trauma to the eye is one in which there is a forceful hit to the eye which does not cause an open injury to the eye as seen in the picture. Blunt traumas could be caused by a fight (may be a blow to the eye), motor accident or injury during sporting activities and such injuries have been seen to highly sight threatening.

Signs and symptoms

Most commonly, after a blunt trauma has occurred, the sign seen is swelling of the eyelid or a bruised eyelid. Other signs which are usually not seen ordinarily as with swollen or bruised eyelids are retinal tears, cracked/broken/fractured orbital bones, damage to certain internal structures of the eye, hyphema (bleeding in the eye); all of which are sight threatening.

What to do?

We can curb the increasing rate of trauma to the eye by using protective equipment in our various places of work and do well to stay away from predisposing environments.

However, if a blunt trauma to the eye does occur, the following management will suffice:

  1. Immediately contact your eye doctor. It is advised that patients with a blunt trauma see their doctor possibly on the same day.
  2. Avoid touching the eye as much as possible.
  3. Avoid self-medicating.
  4. For contact lens wearers, do not attempt taking off the lenses yourself as this can further damage the eye. Just see the doctor.

Diagnosis

To detect a blunt trauma, your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye examination on you including:

  • Vision and eye muscle assessment: to measure the extent of clear vision you have and how smooth and painless the movements of your eyes are.
  • Dilated eye exam / slit lamp examination: A comprehensive examination of the eye and retina
  • Tonometry: Measuring the intraocular pressure
  • Ophthalmoscopy: Evaluating any optic nerve or retinal damage

How Do We Treat A Blunt Trauma?

Depending on the results of the examination with your doctor following a blunt trauma to the eye, treatment modalities can be decided thus:

  • Laser/surgical treatment: this may be required where there is a following rupture to the globe following the trauma or if there is a retinal tear/detachment.
  • Eye drops: depending on what is being handled, different eye drops are dispensed. Steroid eye drops may be given to reduce inflammation within the eye; anti-glaucoma medications will be given where intraocular pressure is elevated, to crash the eye pressures, icepacks are also administered (cold compresses) to help reduce swelling.
  • Reduction of physical activities: Your eye doctor may advise reduction of physical activities in severe cases or a bed rest to control bleeding (and additional avoidance of certain analgesics like ibuprofen which can increase bleeding
  • CT scans or X-Rays: this will be needed to examine the orbital structures for fractures.

Remember to seek immediate medical attention once a blunt trauma occurs with you or your loved ones.

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