Minor Eye Trauma: Examples And Treatment

Published on 04/26/2021
minor eye trauma

The eyes are tough and they are good healers, but there are some situations that demand extra attention, support, and treatment. Minor eye trauma is one of them. Anytime you suspect there is trauma or minor injury to the eye, get on the phone and contact your optometrist.

In some cases, s/he’ll provide information about how to treat the eye at home and what to look for over the next 24 to 72 hours. In other cases, s/he may get you scheduled for an emergency eye appointment or recommend heading to your preferred urgent care center.

Examples Of Minor Eye Trauma

For example, if you call in to ask about removing a stubborn or painful object from the eye, we’ll give you instructions on how to do that safely (read, Removal of Foreign Object From the Eye: DIY or The Doctor?, to learn more about that). If a notable scratch, tear, or puncture is the result of those efforts, you’ve migrated to the minor eye trauma category and require immediate attention.

Most common types of minor eye injuries

When we see patients who’ve experienced eye injuries, they are most likely to have experienced:

  • A punch or elbow to the eye
  • Being hit in the eye/nose by balls, bats, hands, or sports equipment
  • Having a run-in with flying objects
  • Getting hit by airborne objects such as dirt, debris, or industrial materials
  • Injury as the result of riots, protests, or urban conflicts
  • Chemical splashes

Any of the above can cause both minor and major eye injuries. Major eye injuries demand immediate attention from an ER, urgent care, or an eye clinic that can get you in for an immediate emergency appointment.

Examples of major eye injuries include:

  • Something has penetrated or is poking directly out of the eye
  • Eyes that are bleeding rather than tearing
  • Severe swelling or color changes around the eye
  • Blood pooling in the eye tissues leads to vision loss or disruption
  • Eye injury that results in unconsciousness, dizziness, or lapse of memory
  • Blindness or major disruptions in vision beyond blurriness caused by tearing


If any of these are an issue, call 9-1-1 or get the person safely to urgent care or ER as someone else stands by to contact the patient’s optometrist.

Some of the most common types of eye injuries that cause minor eye trauma include:

Scratched eye (corneal abrasion)

Your eyes will let you know loud and clear when they are scratched. The pain and discomfort can feel unbearable. In addition to being red and sensitive to light, the eyes will tear incessantly to bathe the wound in natural saline solution and the immune system kicks into gear.

Scratched corneas occur in situations where sand, dirt, or other abrasive materials fly by and scratch the cornea or when patients rub their eyes trying to get foreign objects out and wind up rubbing the object against the eye.

Try to keep the eye closed (no patches, that can lead to infection) and get yourself safely to an optometrist.

Swollen, bruised, or puffy eyes (“black eyes”)

Eyes that experience blunt-force trauma (hits, punches, knocks, flying objects, etc.) may puff up and even swell shut, along with turning pretty vibrant colors. In most cases, a soft cold pack and OTC pain relievers/anti-inflammatory medications will relieve discomfort until the eye heals on its own.

Even so, it is still a good idea to set up an appointment with your eye doctor within 24 hours to ensure there is no internal tissue damage.

Eye-bleeding (subconjunctival hemorrhages)

These are not pretty and can look far worse than they really are. Blunt trauma causes the blood vessels in the whites of the eyes to rupture, and the underlying bleeding is the eye’s version of a bruise. You can also see eye-bleeding as a result of chronic sneezing during allergy season!

These are typically painless, do not disrupt vision, and clear up on their own. If there is pain or loss of vision, call your eye doctor.

PLEASE NOTE: If the eye-bleeding is not in the whites but is located in the space between the iris and the cornea it is called hyphema. In this case, you typically experience discomfort, blurred vision, distorted vision, eye pain, or headaches. Get treatment immediately.

Traumatic iritis (inflammation of the colored iris around the pupil)

The same injuries that lead to scratched corneas, black eyes, or eye-bleeding can also impact the iris. This type of injury requires immediate attention because it is more likely to impact vision or result in infection than other types of minor eye trauma. This eye injury deserves immediate medical attention.

Don't Hesitate To Call

Eye to Eye Family Vision Care appreciates calls from concerned patients or their parents whenever an eye injury occurs. We’re always happy to answer your questions and tell you the next best steps for treating minor eye trauma and other eye injuries, or to get you into our Sapulpa eye clinic ASAP whenever necessary.

Please contact us by phone immediately when you need help treating an eye injury at 918-227-3937. Our friendly eye doctors and staff would much rather tell you all is well than learn you hesitated to call and it caused further worry, concern, or damage to the eye.