Treating eye trauma
The easiest way to prevent injury is to wear protective eyewear such as goggles. We only have two eyes; the loss of even one is traumatic and detrimental. There is no way to replace an eye or your vision.
TRAUMATIC eye injuries are more common than people think; accidents happen at work or even during play.
The most common one seen by specialists is a corneal foreign body injury, where a moving foreign body ( most often a tiny piece of metal) becomes lodged in the cornea ( the transparent layer that forms the front of the eye).
This injury is often seen among people who work with potentially dangerous machinery, such as steel- cutting machines, welding equipment or even grass cutters, and who neglect to wear protective eye gear.
Corneal foreign body injuries also occur during motor vehicle accidents, such as when a broken glass flies into the person’s eye, and among children where the cornea is pierced with a pencil, for example.
“A corneal foreign body can usually be removed under local anaesthesia by using a needle and a slit lamp microscope. The patients are then prescribed with antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection in the eyes,” says Dr Liau Kok Liang, resident consultant ophthalmologist at Mahkota Medical Centre.
Dr Liau explains that a more dangerous injury occurs when the eye is cut by a sharp foreign body travelling at high speeds, causing a full thickness corneal laceration – where the sharp object cuts through the whole cornea to next layers of the eye. The injury worsens if the foreign body hits the lens of the eye.
“This can cause a traumatic cataract, which can lead to loss of vision. There is also a chance of bacteria entering the eye and causing infection,” he explains.
Other injuries include where a blunt object ( such as a shuttlecock or, in cases of assault, a fist) hits the eye, causing blood to pool in the eye, leading to blurred vision.
Dr Liau says that most of these injuries can be treated with oral and topical medication. However, if the injury is severe, it can lead to traumatic glaucoma, which is where there is persistent high pressure in the eyeball. This requires long- term treatment and surgical intervention in some cases.
Sometimes, a forceful impact can even lead to the eyeball rupturing. “This type of traumatic injury is more difficult to treat and in most cases leads to complete vision loss,” says Dr Liau.
Another serious eye injury is called intra- ocular foreign body, where the foreign body has penetrated the eyeball and rests on the internal part of the eyeball.
Treatment for this injury requires the use of a vitrectomy machine to remove the foreign body and suture ( sew close) the laceration.
Imaging technology such as a CT ( computed tomography) scan may also be used so that the surgeon can determine exactly what the injury entails.
“The eye is very small compared with other organs, so a 2mm object lodged in the eye is considered quite big. Therefore, surgery on the eye requires microscopic precision,” says Dr Liau.
These treatments are administered by specialists at hospitals in Malaysia, including Mahkota Medical Centre. It is best to go to hospital when such injuries occur instead of to your normal general practitioner.
Dr Liau stresses the importance of taking care of your eye health. “Your eyes are not like your bones – they do not regrow the same way. If you have a severe injury, you may never recover full vision in that eye. Loss of vision is usually permanent,” he explains.
This means that you will lose your ability to perform certain tasks as your three- dimensional vision is compromised. This may lead to you losing the ability to work and to loss of income.
“The easiest way to prevent injury is to wear protective eyewear such as goggles. This goes not just for those working with machinery in a factory but also the everyday person who does work around the house or is cutting grass in the garden,” he advises.
“We only have two eyes; the loss of even one is traumatic and detrimental. There is no way to replace an eye or your vision. It is therefore very important to ensure safety and prevent eye injury.”
For more information, contact Mahkota Medical Centre.