In persons under 25 years of age, ocular trauma is the number one cause of vision loss. The most common injuries involve the eyelids, lesions to the tear duct, corneal abrasions from fingernails, contact lenses, and paper edges. One of the most serious injuries of the eye is a chemical burn. Damage can be minor and temporary (e.g., from hair spray) or severe and possibly blinding (e.g., from alkalis and acids). When a chemical injury occurs, the eyes should be flooded immediately for ten minutes with any neutral fluid available (e.g., water) to minimize the damage. After irrigation, emergency medical care should be sought at once.
Blunt trauma and penetrating trauma are both significant causes of visual loss. Blunt trauma, the more common of the two, occurs when the eye is struck with a finger, fist, racket, tennis ball, or other solid object. Such injuries produce damage to the eye as a result of the sudden compression and indentation of the globe that occurs at the moment of impact. Bleeding may occur in the front of the eye between the clear cornea and colored iris, a condition referred to as a hyphema. The normally clear lens may also be damaged. It may turn cloudy, thus forming a cataract that blocks light from getting to the back of the eye, or it may be displaced within the eye so that is can no longer focus a clear image. Blunt trauma can cause retinal detachment, which generally require prompt surgical repair to prevent or minimize serious visual loss.
Penetrating trauma refers to injuries in which the eye is pierced by a sharp object such as a knife, or by a high-velocity missile such as a piece of metal or wood. Surgery is often needed to repair the damage.