Any activity where something is flying at the eye puts the eye at risk for an injury. Over one million people suffer eye injuries each year in the United States. Almost 50% of these accidents occur at home and over 90% of them could have been prevented.
Minor injuries to the cornea -- the clear, protective covering over the front of the eye -- can be quite painful. A corneal abrasion is a scratch. Appropriate treatment may include an antibiotic drop or ointment and an eye patch for comfort. Sand or other particles can stick to the cornea. Such foreign bodies may be removed with a moistened Q-tip, usually by a doctor. Do not rub the eye.
Regular prescription glasses or contact do not protect eyes from injury. Some glasses and some types of contact lenses shatter if the eye is hit. People who play sports and wear prescription glasses can have special glasses or prescription goggles made.
Infections, inflammation, glaucoma, and many other eye disorders are treated with eyedrops. Surprisingly, even the small amount of medication in an eyedrop can create significant side effects in other parts of the body. It is important to remember that all medicines have side effects. There are ways to decrease the absorption of the eyedrop into the system, and to increase the time the eyedrop is in the eye, making the medicine more safe and effective.
Inserting eyedrops may seem difficult at first but becomes easier with practice. To put in an eyedrop, tilt the head back. Then create a pocket in front of the eye by pulling the lower lid down with an index finger or gently pinch the lower lid outward with the thumb and index finger. Let the drop fall into the pocket without touching your eye or eyelid (to prevent contamination of the bottle).
Immediately after instilling the drop, squeeze the bridge of your nose for two to three minutes with your thumb and forefinger. This prevents most of the drop from traveling down the tear duct to the rest of the body.
Keep your eyes closed for three to five minutes after instilling the drop. Because the volume of a single drop exceeds the capacity of the surface of the eye, it serves no purpose to use two drops at the same time.
Before opening your eyes, dab unabsorbed drops and tears from the closed lids with a tissue. If you are taking two different types of eyedrops, wait at least five minutes before instilling the second drop.