Page header image

Eye Injury

What is an eye injury?

Eye injuries are usually cuts, scrapes or bruises around the eye. When your child is injured in or around the eye, the main concern is possible damage to your child's vision. Older children can tell you if their vision is blurred or out of focus. Test your child's vision at home by covering each eye in turn and having your child look at a distant object. Children less than 3 years old usually need to be examined by a doctor to answer this question.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Cuts or scrapes

    If you have a cut near the eye, first wash your hands. Protect the eye with a clean cloth, then wash the wound carefully with soap and water for 5 minutes. Rinse the wound well. Then apply pressure for 10 minutes with a sterile gauze to stop bleeding. Apply an antibiotic ointment to any cut. If you think that the eyeball itself has been cut, do not try to clean or wash out the eye. Tape a paper or Styrofoam cup over your child's eye and go immediately to the emergency room. Do not put any pressure on the eye.

  • Swelling or bruises with intact skin

    Swelling usually follows injury to the soft tissues or bone around the eye. Apply a cold compress for 20 minutes. If you use ice, make sure it's covered with wet washcloth to protect the delicate skin on the eyelid from frostbite. If there's no ice available, use something from the freezer. Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain if necessary. Don't be surprised if a black eye develops over the next 2 days. You do not need to worry if a subconjunctival hemorrhage (bruise of the white of the eyeball) develops. These unsightly bruises are harmless. They do not spread to inside the eye and clear up in about 2 weeks.

How can I help prevent eye injuries?

Objects that penetrate the eyeball often result in loss of vision. Don't buy your child an air-powered gun (BB gun). Also don't allow your child to play near someone using a lawn mower.

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

Call IMMEDIATELY if:

  • There is any injury to the eye itself.
  • The skin is split open and may need stitches.
  • There are vision changes in either eye.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-19
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Page footer image