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An overview of eye injuries


Personal injuries to the eye may range from a minor corneal abrasion that will heal within a matter of days to a severe chemical burn that could result in sight loss.  Eye injuries result from a number of accidents such as sporting accidents, accidents at work, car accidents, holiday accidents and product liabilty.

Types of eye injury and the symptoms that they bring will be discussed along with recommended treatments and a predicted outlook. Then, compensation awards for eye injuries and blindness will be considered before we inform you of how you can make a personal injury claim with The Claims Solicitors. Read more about making a personal injury claim.

Eye injury types and symptoms

There are many types of personal injury to the eye which cause those that suffer them to experience a variety of temporary and permanent symptoms:

Black eyes - this common eye injury, usually caused by a blow to the face, is otherwise known as ecchymosis. This is where the tissue around the eye becomes bruised and the blood rises to the surface of the skin making it look black or deep purple in colour. This is obviously distinguished by bruising but also swelling to the eye area and a dull ache.

Chemical burns - these can range from getting soap in the eye, which is an irritant but will not usually cause permanent damage, to getting acids and alkalis in the eye, which can cause sight loss or even loss of the eye itself. Chemicals can easily cause damage if they splash into your eyes, are sprayed into the eye or are transferred from your hands into your eye. Chemical burns are usually very painful, causing a burning sensation and making the eye become red and the eyelids swollen.

Corneal abrasions - this is a scratch or abrasion of the special skin which covers the front of the eye. A corneal abrasion often occurs when something such as a fingernail, sharp toy, piece of dirt or contact lens comes into contact with the eye and scratches it. This personal injury may cause pain, a sensation that there is something in the eye, tearing (watering of the eyes) and sensitivity to light.

Eyelid and conjunctiva lacerations - these are cuts to the eyelid or mucous membranes which cover the eye and usually occur as a result of sharp objects or a fall. These may be recognised by pain, redness and a sensation that feels like something is in the eye.

Foreign bodies in the eye - these are any objects in the eye that are not supposed to be there such as dirt or glass. Foreign objects usually find their ways into the conjunctiva or the cornea. Depending on the part of the eye affected, an overwhelming sensation that something is in the eye, pain, redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and excessive tearing may all indicate this particular injury.

Fractures of the orbit - the orbit is the bony structure which surrounds the eye and when one or more of the bones surrounding the eye is cracked or broken this is known as a fracture of the orbit. This injury may occur following a strike to the face with a blunt object. A fracture of this kind may be associated with severe damage to the eye, depending where the fracture occurs.

Pain when the eyes move, double vision that disappears when one eye is covered, eyelid swelling after the nose is blown, general swelling to the eye area and bruising are all associated with fractures of the orbit.

Hyphema - this is the result of bleeding in the eye which occurs in the anterior chamber at the front of the eye, in between the cornea and the iris. This may also be caused by significant force from a blunt object such as a fist. The main symptoms include pain and blurred vision.

Traumatic iritis - inflammation of the iris can occur in the same way as a corneal abrasion. The iris is the coloured part of the eye which controls the amount of light that enters the eye through the pupil. This personal injury may be caused by a blow to the eye from a blunt object. Patients often suffer from pain that feels like a deep ache, light sensitivity and excessive tearing.

eye injury

Eye injury treatment and prognosis

Some minor injuries to the eye can be treated at home but in most instances it is advisable to seek professional medical assistance from a specialist eye doctor also known as an ophthalmologist. They will provide you with expert medical treatment and inform you of the outlook for your particular personal injury:

Black eyes - an ice pack should be applied to the eye area in order to reduce swelling. Ecchymosis rarely causes lasting damage and will heal within a week or two.

Chemical burns - the eye should be thoroughly flushed out and for severe chemical exposure your pupil may be dilated with eye drops and pain relieving medicine administered. The outlook depends on the chemical and how much exposure the eye suffered. If exposed to acid or alkalis loss of vision may occur.

Corneal abrasions - anaesthetic eye drops may be used to examine the eye. An eye patch may be prescribed, depending on your specialist's school of thought. Some doctors believe that eye patches speed up the healing process while others believe that they increase the risk of infection. That said, a full recovery is usually made.

Eyelid and conjunctiva lacerations - the size and location of the injury will dictate whether stitches are required; most minor lacerations will be left to heal on their own. A good recovery is expected but there is the potential for further infection and scarring.

Foreign bodies in the eye - a gentle flushing of the eye may dislodge a foreign body but the eye should not be rubbed or have anything inserted into it to remove foreign bodies as this increases risk of further damage. The outlook depends on how close the foreign body is to critical structures of the eye but a permanently affected vision is not common as a result of these kinds of injuries.

Fractures of the eye - an ice pack and elevation of the head for the first 48 hours after injury should help reduce swelling. Nasal decongestants and oral antibiotics may be prescribed. Prognosis depends on the severity of the fracture. Surgical repair may be performed after one or two weeks when swelling has subsided.

Hyphema - for more serious cases hospitalisation, bedrest, elevation of the head and wearing a protective metal shield over the eye may be required. Minor cases may be treated at home but you should not take aspirin for the pain as they increase the risk of bleeding and you should lie flat. The size of the hyphema and a re-start of bleeding can prolong recovery time. Complications include decreased vision and glaucoma.

Traumatic iritis - sunglasses may be worn to protect the eyes until treatment has begun. Eyedrops are often used to dilate the pupil and steroid eyedrops may be used to treat inflammation. A full recovery is usually expected.

Eye injury and blindness compensation amounts

The level of compensation awarded to those with eye injuries depends on the severity of the personal injury, the age of the person who suffered the injury, the presence of residual effects and scarring.

Transient eye injuries
Cases in which the injured person recovers within a few weeks - 1,250 to 2,150.

Minor eye injuries
These include being struck in the eye, exposure to fumes such as smoke or being splashed by liquids, causing initial pain and temporary interference with vision - 2,150 to 4,750.

Complete loss of sight in one eye
Minor but permanent impairment of vision in one eye including cases of double vision which may be intermittent - 6,750 to 11,500.

Serious but not complete loss of vision in one eye without significant risk of loss or reduction of vision in remaining eye, or where double vision is constant - 13,000 to 21,500.

Some risk of sympathetic ophthalmia. Those with scarring in the region of the eye which is not sufficiently serious to merit a separate award may qualify for the higher end of this bracket - 27,000 to 30,000.

Total loss of one eye
The compensation award depends on age of the patient and level of cosmetic effect that eye injury has - 30,000 to 36,000.

Loss of sight in one eye with reduced vision in the remaining eye
Reduced vision in the remaining eye and/or additional problems such as double vision - 35,000 to 58,000.

Serious risk of further deterioration in the remaining eye, going beyond some risk of sympathetic ophthalmia - 52,000 to 98,000.

Total blindness
Awards are in the region of - 147,500.

Total blindness and deafness
Awards are in the region of - 222,000.
Read more about ear injuries.

Making a personal injury claim today
If you have suffered a corneal abrasion, chemical burn or any other personal injury to the eye that wasn't your fault then you may be entitled to make a compensation claim.

You can claim for pain and suffering, loss of earnings and medical expenses, such as prescriptions and specialist treatment. We may even be able to arrange for you to see a specialist eye doctor in your area.

We work on a no win no fee basis which means that making a claim with us is totally risk-free.

If you would like to make a personal injury claim without delay fill out one of our online claim assessment forms and we will get back to you whenever it is convenient for you. Alternatively, you can simply give us a call on 0800 197 32 32.