First Aid for 5 Common Eye Ouches

Here’s how to handle everything from itchy eyes to an eye injury, including what to treat at home and when to go to the hospital.

astballs, flying sand, and germy fingers often land in little peepers. If any of these injuries or ailments happen to your kid, follow this advice from Geoffrey Bradford, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Eye Pokes

Handle at Home: Gently place a clean, cool compress over the eye for five to ten minutes. That should do the trick; any general redness in the eye is from irritation and will go away in a day or so.

Needs a Doctor: If the eye still hurts, is light-sensitive, and your child has trouble blinking, it may be scratched. A red patch is likely a broken blood vessel, but an eye exam will confirm the diagnosis.

Eye Gunk

Handle at Home: Use a tissue to wipe it away. Clear discharge along with redness or tearing may be viral conjunctivitis (pink-eye). Keep him home from school until symptoms disappear.

Needs a Doctor: If the discharge is greenish-yellow, and symptoms remain after a week, it could be bacterial conjunctivitis, a type of pink-eye typically treated with antibiotic drops or ointments.

Sand in the Eye

Handle at Home: Ask her to blink, then rinse away any remaining sand granules with an eyewash solution or saline drops. If neither solution is handy, simply douse the eye with tap water.

Needs a Doctor: If she’s still in pain the next day, has blurred vision, tearing, and redness, her cornea may be scratched. Antibiotic drops can prevent infection while the eye heals within three days.

Blow to the Eye

Handle at Home: Apply an ice pack wrapped in a clean cloth for 10 minutes at a time throughout the day. Keep your child upright during the day and elevate his head at night to reduce swelling.

Needs a Doctor: If he can’t move his eye fully in all directions, feels dizzy, has double vision or trouble seeing, he may have a concussion, bone fracture, or other condition that needs urgent attention.

Itchy Eye

Handle at Home: Blame seasonal allergies. Keep windows closed and have your child wear sunglasses outside. When she comes in, wipe her eyelids and face, and wash her hair at night.

Needs a Doctor: If symptoms persist, your doctor can suggest medication. If your child’s eye is also swollen shut, she may have seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, which is treated in the same way.

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