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Posted by Karen Shadbolt on


It is almost inevitable that at some point you will need eye first aid – if not for yourself, then for someone you are close to. Here’s a quick guide to what to do.

First stay calm

An injured eye can be extremely distressing for the casualty, and it is important that you remain calm and follow a simple plan to provide the proper care, and to prevent the situation getting worse.

Remember APA - Assess, Plan, Act

Assess - what has happened and how serious it might be.

Plan – what must happen next.

Act - calmly and quickly to either resolve the problem directly or get someone who can.


It is very likely that the casualty will be able to tell you precisely what happened, but you may need to ask a few more questions to help you to decide on your plan.

The most important question is “Is this an emergency that needs a trip to A&E or a 999 call?”

The answer is YES in the event of any of the following:

·       A strong chemical, such as oven cleaner or bleach, is in the eye – if this is the case keep rinsing the eye with water while waiting for medical help – See below.

·       An object has pierced the eye – If this is the case DO NOT attempt to remove it, instruct the casualty to lie down, keep the eye still and cover the other eye to stop the eye movements caused by inadvertently looking around.

·       Something has hit the eye at high speed – for example, while using power tools or mowing the lawn.

·       There are any changes to sight directly after an eye injury, including double vision, partial or total loss of vision, seeing shadows, flashing lights or halos around lights.

·       The casualty has a headache, high temperature or sensitivity to light directly after an eye impact or injury.

·       The casualty has a very painful red eye and is feeling sick or being sick.

·       The casualty cannot move the eye or keep it open.

·       Blood or pus is coming from the eye.

·       There is blood visible inside the eye.

·       The pupil is irregular in shape after an impact or injury.

·       The casualty cannot move the eye in all directions.


Chemical splashes and heat burns

It is essential that you start rinsing the eye as soon as possible and for at least 20 minutes. If you don’t have copious eye wash available you should use clean water from a jug or even directly under the tap. You may have to assist in keeping the injured eye open. It is very important to rinse all of the front of the eye and under the eyelids.

If possible, make a note of exactly what the chemical was to help the doctors later.

Foreign bodies

Objects like grit, insects or eyelashes can usually be rinsed away.

Ask the casualty to sit down under a good light and tip their head back.

Stand behind them and to the side of the affected eye and gently open their eye with your thumbs.

Ask them to look up, down, left, and right and see if you can see the offending object.

Gently rinse the item away with clean cold water pouring from the inner corner.

If it cannot be removed in this way or the eye is very painful seek medical advice.


Remember to stay calm, explain what you are doing and if in doubt get help.

If you’re faced with a minor eye condition that’s not so severe that you definitely need to visit A&E, you can always call us on 01702 232 222! We’ll be able to provide triage over the phone, and offer advice on how to resolve the issue or seek appropriate help.