What are the most common causes of eye injuries?

Man wearing safety glasses

Whether you’re playing an action-packed sport or just cleaning around the house, eye injuries can happen anytime, anywhere to anyone. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reported that more than 2.5 million eye injuries happen every year across the world with 100,000 of those injuries taking place in the U.S. Of those eye injuries 90% could have been prevented with protective eyewear. Ask your eye doctor about protective eyewear and take proper measures to better protect you and your family from eye injuries.

Always wear protective eyewear and use this list to help keep you aware of some of the most common eye injuries that can occur.

Eye Swelling

Eye swelling is usually a result of something hitting the area around the eye with extreme force, which results in a black eye. The eyelids and area around the eye itself will swell and often change color due to bruising. The best immediate treatment for this type of eye injury is the application on an ice pack.

Blunt Trauma

Blunt trauma occurs when something hits the eye. It is the most common cause of sports-related eye injuries. Activities that can
result in blunt trauma include basketball, water sports, baseball, and racquet sports.

Chemical Burns

Getting unexpectedly splashed or sprayed in the eye by substances other than clean water can be very scary. Some substances sting or burn but are fairly harmless in the long run, while others can result in serious injury. The chemicals involved can make a lot of difference.


Acids can cause considerable amounts of redness and burning, but can be washed out of the eye fairly easily.


Chemicals or substances that are basic (alkali) are much more serious but may not immediately seem so as they don’t cause an instantaneous reaction like eye pain or redness like acids do. Some examples of alkali substances are oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and even chalk dust.

Most chemical exposures and burns are caused by a splash of the liquid getting into the eye, but they can also occur in other ways, such as rubbing your eyes and transferring the chemical from your hands to your eyes.

If your eye becomes extraordinarily red or blurry from a chemical splash, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Depending on the substance, the effect of chemical exposure to the eye can lead to injuries that range from minor irritation and redness to serious damages and even blindness.

Penetrating or Foreign Objects in the Eye

These types of injuries occur when a foreign object penetrates the surface of the eye. If your glasses break while you’re wearing them, a piece of the lens or even the frame can cut into your eye resulting in a penetrating eye injury. If a foreign body enters your eye, be sure to see your eye doctor as soon as possible to have the foreign bodies removed to prevent further damage to your eye.

Eye Scratches (Corneal Abrasions)

If you know that something has scratched your eye and left an abrasion, it’s important to seek medical help as scratches can make your eye susceptible to infection from bacteria or a fungus. Certain types of bacteria and fungi can enter the eye through a scratch and cause serious harm.

If your eye has been scratched, do your best to not rub it. Don’t patch your eye either as bacteria likes dark, warm places to grow and a patch might provide an ideal environment. Instead keep the eye closed and see your eye doctor as soon as possible to check out the injury.


There is a blood vessel that runs between the white part of the eye (known as the sclera) and the eye’s clear covering and when one or more breaks occur in this blood vessel, it can result in blood leakage. This eye injury is actually painless and the blood vessel will repair itself over the course of several weeks. Sometimes small blood vessels in the sclera break and can cause red spots or specks. These are called subconjuctival hemorrhages. The blood vessels can break due to many different things such as sneezing, coughing, vomiting, or bending over, but sometime there is no clear cause.

Treat all eye injuries as potential emergencies and never hesitate to seek out the help of a trusted eye care professional.

request a free consultation
request appointment
contact us