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Preventing and managing penetrating eye injuries

Penetrating eye injuries occur when objects pierce the outer wall of the eyes and enter the inner part of the eyes. They are caused by sharp objects like chips of metals/glass, nails, knives, pins, compasses, scissors, sticks, sharp pencils and flying objects with sharp edges.

Activities and events that increase the risk of penetrating eye injuries include hammering, chiselling, playing with sharp objects, playing with pets with pointy fingers/toenails, hunting, road traffic accidents, working with faulty machines that have loose sharp parts or performing other activities that can turn sharp objects into high-velocity missiles.

Penetrating eye injuries are sight-threatening. They often cause reduced vision and may result in permanent blindness if the injury is severe or if proper care is not received on time.


  1. Place a shield loosely over the eye
  2. Do not rinse the eye or apply anything to the eye
  3. Do not remove the object that is stuck in the eye by yourself.
  4. See an eye doctor immediately for proper evaluation and care

Note that this is an emergency. The earlier appropriate care is given by an eye doctor, the lesser the risk of permanent eye damage.


To prevent a penetrating eye injury, wear the appropriate safety eyewear while performing activities that expose your eyes to flying objects and other eye hazards. Wearing well-fitted, wraparound safety glasses or one with side shields in most cases offers maximum protection against flying objects and can prevent up to 90% of penetrating eye injuries.