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  • First Aid for a Common Target of Wartime Injury: The Eye

    Published Feb. 13, 2024

    Eye injuries during military operations have skyrocketed over the past decades as newer munitions create increasingly smaller debris that can devastate an eye.

    Most of these injuries are caused by blast fragments embedding in the eye and blast-wave contusions that cause trauma to the back of the eye.

    Eye injuries from wars, terrorist attacks, and civil unrest have become commonplace across the globe. To reduce the incidence and severity of these eye injuries, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ophthalmic Trauma offer this advice.

    Physician Resources: Evaluating and Treating Ocular Trauma

    Critical Steps to Protect the Eye

    Eye protection can reduce the number and severity of eye injuries. The eye’s surface makes up just 0.27% of the total surface of our bodies, but accounts for more than 13% of all combat injuries, studies show. That’s 48 times more than expected based on the eye's tiny surface area.

    Eye Trauma First Aid Guide

    Download and share this guide in English or Ukranian (PNG):

    Urgent care for eye injuries

    • DO NOT try to remove any objects stuck in the eye.
    • DO NOT touch, rub, or apply pressure to the eye.
    • DO NOT rinse with water. But if it becomes necessary during a conflict, use clean water.
    • DO NOT apply ointment or medication to the eye.

    If your eye has been cut or punctured

    • Gently place a shield (protective cover) over the eye. The bottom of a paper cup taped to the bones surrounding the eye can serve as a shield until you get medical attention.
    • Do not press the shield against the eye.
    • Don't take aspirin, ibuprofen or other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs thin the blood and may increase bleeding.
    • After you have finished protecting the eye, get emergency medical help.

    Chemical burns and the eyes

    • Immediately flush the eye with plenty of clean water.
    • Seek emergency medical treatment right away.