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Eye and vision problems
The eye is very complex and injury or disease can easily damage your eye beyond repair. It’s important to know what symptoms can indicate a threat to your vision and what to do if your eye is injured.
If you or a family member has lost vision (can’t see) in one or both eyes, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Causes of eye problems
Many medical problems can cause loss of sight.
- Eye disorders such as cataracts, glaucoma or a detached retina may eventually lead to blindness.
- Illnesses such as diabetes, stroke or high blood pressure can also cause a loss of vision.
- Some visual changes may be caused by a problem in the brain. Others may be related to a reaction to medication, or nerve or muscle diseases.
Guard your sight. Protect your eyes with safety glasses whenever there’s any risk of danger to your eyes.Vision can be threatened by having something in your eye, trauma, infection or exposure to chemicals or dense smoke.
If you or a family member injures an eye, basic first aid can prevent further damage or loss of sight. You must go to your doctor or the Emergency Department for all eye injuries. Don’t take risks with your vision.
If your eye or eyelid is cut, bandage the eye lightly and seek medical care right away. Don’t try to wash out your eye or remove any objects stuck in your eye. Don’t rub or apply pressure to the injured eye or lid.
Treat a blow to the eye immediately with an ice compress for about 15 minutes. This reduces pain and swelling. Black eyes or blurred vision may indicate damage to your eyeball.
If your eyes come in contact with caustic chemicals, immediately flush the eye with water for at least 15 minutes. Open your eye as wide as possible, using your fingers to spread the lids, and roll your eyeball as much as possible to clean all surfaces. Don’t use an eye cup or bandage the eye. When you go to your doctor or emergency department, take the chemical container with you if possible.
If you have something in your eye
Cover both eyes and have someone take you to your doctor or emergency department if something is stuck in your eye or has penetrated your eyeball.
To remove something from your eye, like an eyelash, dust or insect, follow these steps.
- Don’t rub your eye.
- Wash your hands before touching your eye.
- Look in a mirror so you can see the object in your eye.
- Blink to allow your tears to wash it out.
- Pull your upper eyelid over your lower eyelid and roll your eyeball.
- Remove floating particles with a wet cotton swab or the corner of a clean cloth while holding your upper or lower eyelid open.
- Use an eye cup or small glass to rinse your eye with plain water to flush it out, and then blow your nose.
When to see your doctor or optometrist
Other eye symptoms which need medical attention are:
- a new or unexplained pain in your eye
- sensitivity to light
- ‘floaters’ (small specks in your field of vision)
- unusual eye redness or excessive wateriness.
Seek medical care for any change in the condition of your eyes or sight.
If you are already registered with an optometrist, contact them if you have any concerns about your eye health or changes in your vision.
Call Healthline 0800 611 116 if you are unsure what you should do.