Last time, we talked about the importance of keeping your eyesight sharp (and protected). If you ask the average man in the street which of the five senses they would most like to preserve, you can bet that they’ll say their eyesight. After discussing eye infections in my last article, I think we should now consider eye injuries.
The human body is truly a miracle of divine engineering. The conformation of your skull is such that your eyes are slightly recessed in bony sockets, which helps protect them from injury. Despite this, there are many different activities of daily living that can damage your eyesight. Here are just a few of the ways you can injure your eyes:
- Power tools
- Bleach spatter or other household chemicals
- Hedge clippers or lawn mowers
- Grease splatter from cooking
- Chopping wood
- Hot appliances like curling irons or hair dryers
The list goes on and on; heck, you could put your eye out by popping out a cork on a bottle of champagne! The grand majority of these injuries are avoidable with a little planning.
Cornea Injuries and Other Eye Injuries
The most common type of injury happens when something irritates the outer surface of your eye, also known as the “cornea”. The cornea is a clear layer of tissue over the colored part of the eye (the ‘iris”) which exists for purposes of protection and to help with focusing. When this layer of tissue is damaged, it is called a corneal “abrasion”. This type of injury may be caused by any of the things I listed above; as well, people who wear contact lenses are especially at risk. When you have an abrasion, you will feel as if you have a grain of sand in your eye.
To prevent corneal damage, consider the following:
- Wear eye protection whenever you’re performing any activity that could possibly cause an eye injury. (carpentry, target shooting, using power tools come to mind). Eye protection isn’t just for you; it’s for anyone who is close to you when you’re doing these activities.
- When working in the yard, watch for low hanging branches; before mowing the yard, remove loose objects in your path. Make sure that your kids never point a garden hose at someone’s face.
- Put in your contact lenses carefully; don’t sleep in them.
- For kids (and adults, too), keep fingernails trimmed short.
- Use a grease shield when you’re using your frying pan.
Another common issue we can expect in a survival situation would be injuries to the eye from a foreign object. This risk is minimized with eye protection, but it is likely you will come upon this kind of problem at one point or another. The most important thing to do when anyone presents to you with eye pain is a careful examination. A foreign object is the most likely cause of the problem, and it’s up to you to find it.
Use a moist cotton swab (Q-tip) to lift and evert the eyelid. This will allow you to effectively examine the area. Use a large amount of water as irrigation to flush out the foreign object, or touch it lightly with the Q-tip to dislodge it. After cleaning the eye out with water and using antibiotic eye drops (if available), cover the closed eye with an eye pad and gently tape it into place. Ibuprofen will be useful for pain relief. Over the next few days, the eye should heal.
By the way, don’t forget that many natural products will be useful to help healing. Use any one of the home remedies that I mentioned in part 1 of this series. Here’s the link:
Occasionally, blunt trauma to the eye or even simple actions like coughing or sneezing may cause a patch of blood to appear in the white of the eye. This is called a subconjunctival hemorrhage or “hyphema”, and certainly will appear serious. Luckily, this type of hemorrhage is not dangerous, and will go away on its own without any treatment. However, a hyphema that is accompanied by loss of vision after blunt trauma IS cause for concern, and should be followed closely. Additionally, the patient should be kept with the head elevated, to allow any blood to drain to the lower part of the eye chamber. This may help preserve vision. Apply a cold compress without putting undue pressure on the injury.
Of course, if there is modern medical care available to you, don’t procrastinate: See an eye doctor. The medical strategies I describe in my articles are meant to get you through a situation where medical help is inaccessible, and do not take the place of an evaluation by a trained professional.