Eye - Injury  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • Injuries to the eye, eyelid, and area around the eye

If not, see these topics
When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • You think your child has a serious injury
  • Vision is blurred or lost in either eye
  • Seeing double or can't look up
  • Pupils not equal in size
  • Bloody or cloudy fluid behind the clear part of the eye
  • Object hit the eye at high speed (such as from a lawn mower)
  • Sharp object hit the eye (such as a metal chip)
  • Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
  • Any cut on the eyelid or eyeball
  • Nonstop tearing or blinking
  • Child keeps the eye covered or will not open it
  • Severe eye pain
  • Age less than 1 year old
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Bruises near the eye
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • No tetanus shot in over 5 years for DIRTY cuts
  • No tetanus shot in over 10 years for CLEAN cuts
  • You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
  • Minor eye injury
Causes & Health Information

Vision

  • The main concern is whether the vision is damaged.
  • Older children can tell us if their vision is blurred or out of focus. You can test this at home. Cover each eye in turn and having them look at a distant object.
  • Children less than 5 years old usually need to be examined. This is also true even if the injury seems minor. Having an exam is the only way to know the child's vision is okay.
CARE ADVICE FOR MINOR EYE INJURIES

  1. Small Cuts, Scratches or Scrapes:
    • For any bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound. Use a gauze pad or clean cloth. Press for 10 minutes or until the bleeding has stopped.
    • Wash the wound with soap and water for 5 minutes. Protect the eye with a clean cloth.
    • For cuts or scrapes, use an antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin. No prescription is needed.
      Put it on the cut 3 times a day. Do this for 3 days.
    • Cover large scrapes with a Band-Aid. Change daily.
  2. Swelling or Bruises with Intact Skin (including a Black Eye):
    • Put a cold pack or ice wrapped in a wet cloth on the eye. Do this for 20 minutes. This will help stop the bleeding and swelling. Repeat as needed.
    • A black eye usually takes 1 to 2 days to occur.
    • A flame-shaped bruise of the white of the eyeball is also common.
    • After 48 hours, use a warm wet cloth for 10 minutes. Do this 3 times per day. Reason: To help reabsorb the blood.
  3. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
  4. What to Expect:
    • Minor cuts and scratches, as well as bruises, are harmless.
    • They last about 2 weeks.
    • They do not need any medicine to help them go away.
  5. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Changes in vision
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 1/14/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.