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Eye Protection at Work: First Aid

Immediately report all eye injuries to your supervisor for appropriate medical attention.

Despite every precaution, eye injuries can occur. First aid—knowing what to do in an emergency before it happens—may save your own or a coworker's eyesight in the event of an accident.

Foreign particles

If you get anything in your eye—dirt, metal, even an eyelash—go to the nearest eyewash station or water source. Flush the eye with water until the object has been rinsed out. Don't rub your eye—this can scratch your eye or embed the object. If the particle does not rinse free, bandage your eye loosely and get medical attention.

Chemical splashes

Seconds count! Go immediately to the nearest emergency shower or water source. Look directly into the stream of water—hold your eyes open with your fingers if needed—and flush your eyes and face for at least 15 minutes. Get medical attention.

Light burns

If you are exposed to welding, laser, or other radiant light when you are not wearing appropriate protective eyewear, you probably won't feel pain right away. From 4 to 12 hours later, however, your eyes may feel "gritty," sensitive to light, or may get red or swollen. If this occurs, keep your eyes closed to avoid irritation, and get medical attention.

Cuts near the eye

Do not rub, press, or wash the cut; this can cause further damage. Loosely bandage both eyes to stop any eye movement, and get medical attention.

Embedded objects

Never try to remove objects embedded in your eye. This can cause further damage. Loosely bandage both eyes and get medical attention.

Bumps and blows

If you receive a bump or blow to the eye, apply a cold compress for 15 minutes to reduce the pain and swelling. Get medical attention to check for damage that may have occurred inside the eye.

Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph, Thomas N., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Taylor, Wanda, L., RN, PhD.
Date Last Reviewed: 12/26/2015
© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.