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Trauma to the eye can cause multiple problems, including a scratch or abrasion to the outer layer of the eye, the cornea (corneal abrasion), which can cause pain, tearing, light sensitivity, or a grainy feeling on the eye, and the eye may look bloodshot. Eye trauma can also cause the retina to become detached from the back of the eye (retinal detachment), causing vision changes including seeing flashing lights and floating spots. If trauma to the eye is severe it can rupture the eye (globe rupture), which is a medical emergency and can lead to loss of the eye. If the eye is red, itchy or painful and no injury is suspected, an infection might be the cause. Most eye infections are viral (viral conjunctivitis) and go away on their own. If the infection isn't going away, or there is a significant amount of drainage, it may be due to a bacterial infection (bacterial conjunctivitis), and antibiotic eye drops can be used. Snow blindness is another affliction of the eye, when extreme UV radiation causes a “sunburn” to the eye. This is more common at higher elevations when the powerful light reflects off snow. It is important to wear proper sunglasses to prevent snow blindness.


If a corneal abrasion is present, antibiotic eye drops called ofloxacin can be used to treat it and prevent infection. If a bacterial infection of the eye (bacterial conjunctivitis) is suspected, these same ofloxacin drops will treat the infection and help resolve symptoms. Retinal detachment requires surgery, so you should seek immediate medical care. Tetracaine is an anesthetic medicine used to numb the eye for short-term symptomatic relief after an injury, or to numb the eye to allow for irrigation (washing out) or removal of a foreign body. Do not attempt to remove large foreign bodies that have perforated the eyeball – you must cover the eye to protect it from further damage and evacuate the patient immediately for medical treatment.

When To Worry

Seek immediate medical care if you have any of the following:

Quick Guide

If you have

  • eye irritation, redness, tearing in BOTH eyes
  • runny nose
  • possible exposure to allergen
  • known history of seasonal allergies

You may have

allergic rhinitis (seasonal allergies or "hay fever")

Consider using

ketotifen (generic for Zaditor®) 1 drop in the affected eye(s) every 12 hours as needed

See also: Nose and Sinus

If you have

  • minor trauma to the eye
  • eye pain, redness, tearing in ONE eye
  • light sensitivity
  • a grainy feeling on the eye

You may have

corneal abrasion

Consider using

ofloxacin 1 drop in the affected eye 4 times per day for 7 days

and seek emergency medical care

If you have

  • eye pain and redness in ONE or BOTH eyes
  • pus draining from the eye

You may have

bacterial conjunctivitis

Consider using

ofloxacin 1 drop in the affected eye 4 times per day for 7 days

and seek emergency medical care

If you have

  • severe eye pain
  • major trauma to the eye
  • blurred vision or seeing floaters/flashes of light
  • vision loss

You may have

retinal detachment or vitreous hemorrhage or globe rupture or acute glaucoma or retinitis

You should

seek emergency medical care


Ofloxacin is an antibiotic. Ofloxacin drops can be used to treat eye or ear infections.

Prescription only


Ketotifen is an antihistamine eye drop. It temporarily relieves itchy eyes due to pollen, ragweed, grass, animal hair and dander.



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