Aye for an Eye

“If your eyes are bad, your whole body is full of darkness.” Eye injuries can leave you with nothing but the mind’s eye. Or worse. Consider Henry II. He got a splinter in the eye. His doctors tried bleeding him. Henry died. Here is more sound medical advice.

A speck in your eye

Never rub your eye. Lift your upper lid over the lower one and let your lashes get the speck out.

Blinking a few times can also help.

A plank to the eye (i.e., a blow)

Apply an ice-cold compress for 15 minutes to reduce the pain and swelling. Blurred vision, double vision, or a change in the size or shape of your pupil may be signs of an internal injury that needs medical attention.

A cut on the eye or eyelid

Lightly bandage cuts and seek medical help immediately.

Fumes of caustic chemicals

Use your fingers to keep your eye as wide open as possible. Flood you eye with clean water. Hold your head under a tap, or pour water into your eye from a clean container for at least 15 minutes, continuously and gently. Roll your eyeball. Do not bandage it. Then seek medical help.

A special note about trachoma

Trachoma is one of the oldest infectious diseases known to mankind. It is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis – a microorganism that spreads through contact with eye discharge from the infected person (on towels, handkerchiefs, fingers, etc.) and through transmission by eye-seeking flies. After years of repeated infection, the inside of the eyelid may be scarred so severely that the eyelid turns inward and the lashes rub on the eyeball, scarring the cornea (the front of the eye). If untreated, this condition leads to the formation of irreversible corneal opacities and blindness.

Trachoma affects approximately 84 million people, of whom about 8 million are visually impaired. At present, it is responsible for more than 3% of the world’s blindness. Trachoma continues to be hyperendemic in many of the poorest and most remote rural areas of Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Australia and the Middle East.

Prevention and treatment

Environmental risk factors include water shortage, flies, poor hygiene conditions, and crowded households. An additional factor can be eye irritants, such as the dust of arid or semi-arid climates. Irritated eyes are more prone to infection. A single episode of acute Chlamydial conjunctivitis is not considered sight-threatening, since there is virtually no risk of prolonged inflammation or blinding complications.

If you suspect you have trachoma, seek medical attention early or contact us.

Antibiotic ointment is used for the treatment of active trachoma – Tetraclycline 1% ointment applied to the eyes. Clean hands and faces to decrease the spread of the disease, and carefully control sanitation.

Information for the above article adapted from the World Health Organization 2009 publication.