There are times when they might burn, itch or just hurt. Yet you don 鈥檛 really know when it is time to seek medical help. You might be aware of what to do when you get bleach in your eye; rinse out the eye under running water then seek medical help and assistance. But there are times when we don 鈥檛 know if what we did was enough. Here are some helpful hints as to when to seek some help and assistance. When a splash of chemicals cause the eye trauma Should something splash into your eyes, first rinse immediately under water then depending on if is acidic/alkaline corrosive liquid then seek medical help immediately after rinsing. Depending on the redness and severity of the pain you feel after rinsing your eyes will determine how fast you need to seek medical assistance. It is always better to be safe and have an ophthalmologist (eye care specialist/ surgeon) examine your eyes. Once your eyes have been examined the ophthalmologist will administer the correct treatment. How to wash out your eye: 鈥?How it is done is less important than getting it done with great amounts of cold slow flowing water. 鈥?If you are near a shower, get in and put your eye under the running water. This is a good option if you have been sprayed with a chemical in the face and hair. 鈥?Hold a glass of cold water to your eye and tip your head back slowly keeping your eye open. This needs to be repeated to ensure that the eye is clean, and then seek medical advice. 鈥?Make sure you 鈥檙 e the water being used is clean when washing the eye, to avoid infecting your eye with bacteria. 鈥?Do not wipe away any chemicals that may enter your eye with anything. Doing so may result in a corneal abrasion and further damage to your eye that may result in sight loss or blindness. When eye damage may occur without knowing it The human eye is very sensitive and can obtain damage from dust, a black eye or even the embedment of a foreign object in the eye. Care needs to be taken to ensure that you care for your eyes at all times. When should itchy eyes be taken seriously? Usual itchy eyes can lead to corneal abrasion, foreign objects such as dust/ insects scratch a layer of the cornea making the eye burn, itch and pain. Most injuries of this nature heal fairly easily and don 鈥檛 need to be taken that seriously unless the eye becomes infected with bacteria due to bad hygiene or the dirt being contaminated. So it certainly is not wise to rub dirty hands in your eye to get rid of the irritation; rather wash hands then rinse with cold water, followed by a visit to a specialist if still a bother. Corneal abrasions can be very uncomfortable and cause light sensitivity. When light sensitivity occurs medical help is needed from the ophthalmologist to ensure the damage is not too severe. Infections that may cause the eye irritation: 鈥 ?Pink eye/ conjunctivitis 鈥 ?is brought about by either bacterial, viral, or numerous allergic factors. The symptoms do not go away without proper treatment and this variant of conjunctivitis can be passed on to other people just by coming into contact with the exact, identical items. Conjunctivitis usually looks very bad on first diagnosis as the eye can turn very red but the worst part is usually the irritation and itchiness. Antibiotical eye ointments can be prescribed to help fit the infection. 鈥?Styes 鈥?are bacterial infections that lead to the obstruction of oil producing glands around the eyelashes or eyelids. Styes are seen as small bumps on the eyelids. Styes (also called "sty") are usually harmless and will go away after several days on their own as your body fights the infection. 鈥? Blepharitis 鈥?is a non-contagious and common eye disorder that is caused by bacterial or skin conditions. It involves the inflammation of the eyelash follicles, along the edge of the eyelid, forming dandruff-like scales on the eyelashes. Warm compresses can be used to remove any build up. 鈥?Corneal ulcers/ keratitis 鈥?occur after corneal trauma with a foreign body (including contact lenses), and with dry eyes or lid disease which allow bacteria or fungi to enter the cornea, causing a deep infection and inflammation. Medical assistance is required as poor treatment of the trauma can lead to impairment of vision. What to do when eye trauma occurs As mentioned eye trauma can occur when you get a black eye or a foreign object gets into your eye. Leading to damage to the eye and affect your eyesight if not handled correctly. Types of eye injuries/ trauma: 1. Hyphemas and orbital blowout fractures: These injuries are associated with significant force from a blunt object to the eye and surrounding structures. Examples would be getting hit in the face with a hard ball or getting kicked in the face. This type of eye injury needs to be dealt with urgently so that any internal damage to the eye is treated by the ophthalmologist. - Hyphemas are the result of bleeding in the eye that occurs in the front part of the eye, called the anterior chamber. This is the space between the cornea and the iris. - Orbital blowout fractures are cracking or breaks of the facial bones surrounding the eye. 2. Traumatic iritis: This type of injury can occur in the same way as a corneal abrasion. It is also associated with a blow to the eye from a hard blunt object, such as a fist. The iris is the coloured part of the eye, which is a muscle that controls the amount of light that enters the eye through the pupil. Iritis simply means that the iris is inflamed. An examination by the ophthalmologist needs to be undertaken to ensure there is no internal damage to your eye. 3. A subconjunctival haemorrhage: involves leakage of blood from one or more breaks in a blood vessel that lies between the white of the eye (sclera) and its clear covering (conjunctiva). This eye injury usually looks worse than it really is as the sclera of your eye is red at the area of injury. Treatment is not needed all you need to do is rest and the injury will heal itself. 4. Foreign bodies in the eye: foreign body can be a small piece of metal, wood, glass, or plastic filing that enters the eye when protective glasses are not worn. It could be anything that gets into the eye. Eye injuries such these need to be examined by the ophthalmologist as soon as possible. 鈥?Corneal foreign bodies are embedded in the cornea and have not penetrated the eye itself. This type of eye injury may cause corneal scarring; healing to the cornea in this type of injury may be assisted with the use of a scleral lens that can cover the affected area till it has healed after surgical removal of the object. 鈥?Intraorbital foreign bodies are in the orbit (or eye socket) but have not penetrated the eye. Need to be cleared by the ocularist/ eye care specialist to avoid any further damage. 鈥?Intraocular foreign bodies are injuries in which the globe of the eye has been penetrated by the object. May lead to blindness/ loss of sight and may require ocular prosthesis to be fitted depending on the damage to the eye. Removal of the foreign object needs to be done by the eye care specialist, so keep area covered with a paper cup till you reach the specialist if there is any bleeding. When dealing with most the above mentioned eye traumas and eye injuries, it is essential to seek assistance as soon as possible especially if pain and obscured vision are experienced. Do not rinse the eye or rub it as it may cause more damage than needed to your eye. Now you can rest assured knowing that you have some grasp on when you need to seek more information than just the warnings label on your detergent at home or the self-help hints in the first aid kit in the car. Art Eyes specialises in the creation of handcrafted, custom moulded ocular prosthesis (artificial eyes) and haptic scleral shells (lenses that fit over non-sensitive, blinded eyes). Our practice is about delivering superior quality services and products with the empathy and professionalism that you deserve. We have branches situated in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. For more information visit the ArtEyes Association website.