Eyes are delicate and easily damaged, so it’s always a good idea to wear eye protection if there’s a risk of particles or fluid getting into your eyes. If you do get an injury, here’s how to protect the injured eye while waiting for medical help.

Quick Help

  • Call 111 and ask for an ambulance if there’s a major injury to the eye. 
  • Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 if you are unsure. 
  • See a doctor in all other cases. 
  • Check that the person is happy for you to touch them before you give first aid. If they are unconscious and you need to check for injuries or give lifesaving first aid, then don’t delay.
  • DO NOT try to remove a large object lodged in their eye.  
  • If there is a small object but it’s over the coloured part of their eye, or you can’t remove it after flushing their eye,  DO NOT CONTINUE – you might scratch the eye surface. 


What to look for

Eye pain  

Pain in or behind the eye.


The person’s eyelids are very quickly opening and closing.  This could be a spasm.

 Watery or teary eye 

Watery, red eyes or a flow of tears from one eye that doesn’t stop.

 Vision issues  

The person can’t see properly, their vision is blurry, or they can’t see at all. They may be very sensitive to light.


Blood visible in the eye, or bleeding around the eye.

 A ‘gritty’ feeling 

The person’s eye feels gritty to them.  This can happen if they are “snow blind” or suffer an injury from something like the flash of a welding torch.


How you can help 

Major eye injuries

For example, a nail in the eye, or a chemical splash. 

  • Call 111 and ask for an ambulance. 

  • Cover the injured eye with a clean eye pad or wound dressing.  

  • If there is a large object in their eye, DO NOT try to remove it.  Put a pad around the eye socket to avoid pressure.  

  • Help the person to rest in a comfortable position with their eye closed.  

  • Make sure they keep their head and eye still, moving either could cause more damage. 

  • If the eye injury is caused by a chemical splash, flush the eye with lots of water for as long as the person can tolerate it.  

 Minor eye injuries

This could be from a small object, snow blindness or the flash of a welder’s torch. 

  • Tell the person not to rub their eye.   

  • If there is an object in their eye, see if you can see it on the white part of their eye, and if so ask the person to blink several times to wash out the object with tears. 

  • You can try to gently flush out their eye by pouring a stream of clean water across it – tilt their head to the injured side and pour the fluid from the nose side of the eye toward the outer corner. 

  • If this doesn’t work, cover their eye with a clean pad and see a GP (non-emergency doctor).


How to call an ambulance 

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