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It's said that even your worst enemy will come to your aid if you have a serious eye injury. Some people can handle someone's amputated arm, yet have issues with eye injuries. Just note that these feelings are natural, and do your best to overcome your squeamishness.

Penetrating Eye Injuries:

Something sharp has penetrated the actual eyeball, like a nail.

  • Send someone to get immediate medical attention.
  • Never ever remove the object!
  • Stabilize a long protruding object using dressings or cotton around the circumference.
  • If the object is short, do not pack dressings directly on it. Do not put pressure on the injured eye.
  • For a short object, make a tube or doughnut out of cardboard to surround the eye (but not touching it).
  • For a long object, create a large cone or use a disposable cup to place over the injury.
  • Wrap gauze around the tube/cone and their head. This prevents dirt and contaminants from getting into the exposed eye.
  • Cover the uninjured eye, since it will still track movement, causing the injured eye to move.
  • Do not try to wash the eye with water or saline.

Heavy blows to the eye:

If the blow is serious enough, loss of vision may result. Be aware of possible skull fractures, especially in the eye orbit.

  • Apply an ice pack to reuce swelling for approximately 15 minutes. Check often to make sure you do not freeze the eyelid.
  • Do not put pressure on the eye.
  • Get them to medical care if they have vision problems, broken blood vessels in the eye, or severe discoloration (black eye).
  • Seek medical attention if you suspect a skull fracture in the eye orbit area.

Lacerations to the eyelid:

  • Bandage both eyes lightly.
  • Get them to a medical facility.

Chemical Burns:

First aid during a chemical burn is critical to saving the sight of the victim. Alkalis cause greater damage than acids. Chemicals must be removed immediately.

  • Send someone to get medical aid.
  • Tilt the victim's head to the side to keep the flushed chemical from pooling on their face and injuring it. Let the irrigating liquid start at the inside (nose area) of the eye and trickle outwards.
  • Pry open the closed eyelid with one hand.
  • Using clean warm water or non-irritating liquid, if no clean warm water is available, flush the eye. Continue for at least 20 minutes or until medical aid arrives.
  • If using a hose or faucet, set it so the water comes out gently, since a strong force of water may push the chemical around their eye socket.
  • You can never use too much water or flush for too long a period.
  • Have the victim roll their eyes during irrigation.
  • Loosely bandage both eyes with cold, wet dressings.
  • Get them to immediate medical attention.

Knocked-out eye:

  • Cover the eye with a sterile dressing, then wet the bandage with clean water.
  • Do not attempt to re-insert the eye into the socket!
  • Place a cup or cone over the eye, then bandage the cone to keep it in place.
  • Place a bandage over the uninjured eye.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

Foreign Objects:

  • Open the eyelid and attempt to flush with warm clean water.
  • If the object is in the upper eyelid, lift the upper lid and have the victim blink a few times to dislodge it.
  • If the object is in the lower lid, you can use a moistened sterile gauze pad to remove it.
  • Never use tweezers to remove objects from eyes.
  • Do not use dry cotton, like cotton balls or Q-Tips, to remove objects from an eyeball. These can scratch the surface of the eye.
  • Do not allow the victim to rub their eyes.
  • Seek medical attention if you cannot extract the object or you suspect it is embedded in the eye.


Yes, eyes can get burned from sunlight, suntan lamps, arc welding or even snow (snowblindness).

  • The most common symptom is severe pain from 1-6 hours after exposure.
  • Cover both eyes with cold wet packs.
  • Do not let the victim rub their eyes.
  • Keep the victim in a dark room or closet. Prevent light from reaching their eyes.
  • Give pain medication, such as Tylenol, if needed.
  • Seek medical attention or take victim to an ophthalmologist.

Take a first aid course!

First Aid

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