|Wednesday, April 15th, 2009||Emily Halevy | CWK Producer|
“Sometimes when you get hit in the eye, you can scratch your cornea or get what we call a corneal abrasion. That’s very painful and affects your vision and can cause serious visual problems if it’s very deep or doesn’t heal properly.”
– David Goo, M.D., emergency pediatrics, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“His little cousin threw a book at him in his eye. He cried and went to sleep, and I didn’t know it was that serious until he woke up,” explains Patricia Livas, grandmother of Coryell Williams.
And that’s when she noticed her grandson’s eye was bloodshot. The worry is that Coryell may lose some of the vision in his left eye.
“How many fingers am I holding up?” Dr. David Goo quizzes Coryell. “Two,” he says.
He can see, but how well? Has his cornea been damaged? “Sometimes when you get hit in the eye, you can scratch your cornea or get what we call a corneal abrasion,” Goo explains, “that’s very painful and affects your vision and can cause serious visual problems if it’s very deep or doesn’t heal properly.”
A test is done using a black light and a special dye called fluorescein. “If there’s a cut to the eye or a scratch to the eye, that scratch will pick up the fluorescein and it’ll brightly mark the area that’s injured,” explains the doctor.
“Now I’m gonna put a little tiny drop of this in your eye,” Goo tells Coryell. “Now we’re gonna look in his eye and we’ll see if there’s any scratches to the cornea.”
“We don’t see any scratch to the cornea, so that means that the cornea’s okay and that’s the important part,” says Goo, but, “You can see here where there’s this white part that’s normal and then the area where the bloody vessels have broken, so he has what we call a subconjuctival hemorrhage.
Simply put, there are broken blood vessels in his eye. “Fortunately,” the doctor explains, “subconjuctival hemorrhages resolve without any treatment, there’s usually no complications, and usually the eye redness is gone within two to three weeks.”
Children may sometimes awaken with swollen or puffy eyes that itch and burn. These symptoms can be alarming, especially if the condition seems to appear for no reason. But as most parents quickly learn, several common infections and injuries – some minor and some more serious – can easily be responsible for such eye symptoms.
Many children may obtain injuries to their eyes playing with family or friends – they can get poked, something can fly into their eyes, they can get hit in the eye with something, etc. The Oregon Health & Science University cites these additional problems that may be associated with children’s red, itchy, swollen eyes:
While most of the common eye infections previously mentioned will disappear within a week, it is important that your child visits a doctor to rule out any long-term or serious eye problems. The Nemours Foundation suggests the following strategies to prepare your child for his or her visit with the doctor:
While some eye injuries and infections cannot be prevented, it is still important that your child has his or her eyes examined on a regular basis. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a first eye exam at 6 months of age, again at the age of 3 or 4, and then every one to two years thereafter. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions you to call your pediatrician or eye doctor immediately if you notice any of the following warning signs of any eye problem in your child: