About 2 million traumatic eye injuries happen every year in the U.S. This makes eye trauma the second most common cause of vision loss, following cataracts.
Almost any accident can cause an eye injury, but workplace accidents cause more eye injuries than any other type of accident. Eye protection can prevent over 90% of these work-related eye injuries.
Find out more in our guide to eye injuries. We’ll cover the most common ways that injuries happen and the options for recovering compensation for an eye injury.
How Do Eye Injuries Happen?
The eye is a complex sensory organ that collects light through the iris and focuses that light onto the retina. The retina turns the light into electrical signals. Those electrical signals pass along the optical nerve to the brain.
Injuries to any of these structures can result in partial or total vision loss. Eye injuries can happen anytime that something flies toward or into the eye.
Some common causes of eye injuries include:
Blunt trauma happens when an object strikes the eye without penetrating it. Blunt trauma can bruise the eyelid or rupture blood vessels in the eyeball. Blood can collect in the eye, causing discoloration and interfering with the victim’s vision.
In severe cases, blunt trauma can even rupture the eyeball.
Penetrating trauma occurs when something pierces the eye. Penetrating trauma can cause severe damage to the eye. If the eyeball ruptures, you could suffer from permanent blindness. If doctors can repair the rupture with emergency surgery, you may still suffer from partial vision loss.
A foreign object can enter the eye without penetrating the eyeball. Foreign objects can cause extreme pain. Doctors must remove foreign objects so that they do not damage the cornea or the muscles that control the eye.
Caustic chemicals, flames, or hot objects can damage the tissue of the eye, resulting in partial or total vision loss. Chemical burns from products like lye and drain cleaner can burn eyes almost immediately on contact.
An orbital fracture occurs when the bone surrounding the eye socket breaks. Orbital fractures might only affect the patient’s vision by causing swelling around the eye. But in serious cases, bone fragments may damage the eye, eye muscles, blood vessels in the eye, or the optical nerve.
The retina can detach from the inside surface of the eyeball. When the retina detaches, doctors must act quickly; the retina can die without a supply of blood. Without a retina, a patient will likely permanently lose their vision in the eye.
Retinal detachment can happen naturally or as a result of eye trauma. Blows to the head can cause a retina to detach.
What Are the Risk Factors for Eye Injury?
Although any accident can cause an eye injury, some accidents have a higher likelihood of injuring the eyes.
Some of the accidents that can produce eye injuries include:
Toxic exposures to caustic chemicals and fumes can damage eye tissue. Likewise, power tools and factory machinery can throw foreign objects into the eye.
Falls from a height can cause blunt trauma, penetrating trauma, or an orbital fracture. Even a slip and fall accident can result in eye injuries if the eye or face impact something during the fall.
Car accidents involve flying debris that can injure your eye. You can also suffer blunt trauma to the eye or orbital if your head impacts the steering wheel, dashboard, airbag, or windshield.
Like car accidents, motorcycle accidents can produce eye injuries through flying debris. But motorcycle accidents pose an additional risk of eye trauma resulting from an impact with the pavement that can damage the eye or fracture the orbital.
Defective Product Accidents
Defective products can break, explode, or catch fire. These accidents can lead to many injuries, including eye injuries.
What Are the Effects of Eye Injuries?
Humans rely on their vision more than any other sense. As a result, accident victims will often immediately notice any visual impairment.
Some of the effects of eye injuries include:
- Swelling of the eyelid and tissue surrounding the eye
- Visible blood under the surface of the eyeball
- Loss of vision
- Impaired eye movement
- Blurry vision
- Flashes of light
You should visit the emergency room if you notice any vision change. Some eye injuries, like a detached retina, require emergency surgery so that patients can avoid blindness.
How Are Eye Injuries Treated?
Treatment of eye injuries depends on the type of injury. Doctors must remove foreign objects in the eye before they enter the eyeball, eye muscles, or optic nerve.
First responders will flush caustic chemicals from the eye to prevent further damage.
Some eye injuries will require surgery. Doctors may repair penetrating trauma and detached retinas with emergency surgery. Similarly, doctors may need to remove bone fragments after an orbital fracture so that they can rebuild the eye socket.
For other eye injuries, doctors will monitor your condition to determine whether the injury will heal on its own. For example, blunt trauma might cause bruising and bleeding, but doctors may not take any immediate action.
What Compensation Can I Recover for an Eye Injury?
Eye injuries can produce lifelong visual impairment. Damage to the orbital or the muscles that control the eye can prevent you from moving the damaged eye, even after your injury heals. Similarly, a reattached retina can produce blurry or wavy vision where the detachment occurred.
After an eye injury, your damages may include compensation for medical bills, lost income, diminished earning capacity, and pain and suffering. An eye injury that causes partial or total vision loss may require significant rehabilitation. You may also need counseling and mental health treatment for depression.
You could miss significant time at work. You might even need to quit work or change jobs as a result of your vision loss.
You can seek compensation for these kinds of losses through an injury claim.
Contact a Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer For a Free Consultation
To learn more about potential compensation after an eye injury, contact Catania & Catania, P.A. Our Tampa personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation to help you to understand your legal options.