by R. Thomas Barowsky, MD
Last week we talked about some of the more gruesome injuries that can really take the fun out of a Summer day outside. I’ll finish off the subject of first aid for the eye today by talking about the more common problems we see in the office and emergency room.
To remove a loose eyelash, dirt particle, or other object in your eye:
1. Wash your hands before touching your eyes.
2. Look in a mirror and try to find the object in your eye.
3. Try the following methods to remove the object:
o Try to blink to allow your tears to wash it out. Do not rub your eye.
o If the particle is behind your upper eyelid, pull the upper lid out and over the lower lid and roll your eye upward. This can help get the particle come off the upper lid and flush out of the eye.
o If the object is in the corner of your eye or under your lower eyelid, remove it with a wet cotton swab or the corner of a clean cloth while holding the lower lid open.
o Fill an eye cup or small juice glass with lukewarm water. Put your eye over the cup of water and open your eye to rinse your eye and flush the object out.
o You can pour lukewarm water into your eye or hold your eye under a faucet to flush out your eye.
Chemical burns to the eyes are a true medical emergency. Follow these steps if you get a chemical in your eyes.
1. Immediately flush the eye with water by holding your head under the faucet or by pouring water into your eye from a clean container. Keep your eye open while flushing with water.
2. Continue flushing out your eye for 15 to 30 minutes.
3. After you flush your eye out, call your eye doctor or have someone take you to the emergency department or urgent care center.
4. If possible, take the container the chemical was in with you.
If you need to use eye drops or ointments in your eyes, you will get the most benefit from your medicine if you use it properly.
Some general guidelines are:
• Always use the amount of medicine your eye doctor or emergency room doctor has prescribed. Do not use it more or less often than prescribed.
• Do not use this medicine for other eye conditions unless your eye doctor approves.
• Never share eye medicines with others.
• Before you put any medicine in your eyes, wash your hands thoroughly.
• Read the label on the medicine to make sure you have the right one.
• If you develop any new redness or irritation while you are using your medicine, contact your eye doctor.
• If you have been prescribed both eye drops and eye ointment then always put the eye drop in before the ointment.
• If you have been prescribed more than one eye medicine, use one then wait several minutes before using the next one.
If you have trouble using eye drops, ask someone to help.
Your vision may be blurry for some time after using your ointment. Avoid driving and other activities that require good vision until you can see clearly.
Do not wear your contacts when you are putting eye medicines in your eyes. Sometimes you can put your contacts in about 10 minutes after you have used your medicine. However, some eye medicines will stain your contacts. Ask your eye doctor about wearing contacts while you are using your eye medicine.
If you have any questions about using your eye medicines properly, ask your eye doctor and have a safe and festive Summer.
If you have questions about your eye health e-mail Dr. Barowsky at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to answer your questions here at Eye-Q.