TRAUMATIC OPHTHALMOLOGIC EMERGENCIES
JE ME FORME
Professeur d’anglais aux Ifsi de Nancy auteur de Maîtriser l’anglais médical, L’Anglais médical pratique et L’Anglais en ergothérapie, éditions Lamarre
In the ophthalmic emergency service, a specialized nurse (SN) is checking the general knowledge of a trainee nurse (TN) before the latter takes on her shift.
SN: As you should know, ocular traumas are responsible for more or less serious conditions, from a transient decrease in visual acuity to the permanent loss of an eye, and can constitute real therapeutic emergencies. Therefore, I’d like to review with you some basic knowledge before you take on your shift. Is that ok?
TN: Yeah, no problem.
SN: All right then. So, can you tell me how common eye conditions can happen?
TN: The circumstances can be varied and range from work, domestic or road accidents, assaults, shooting accidents or during sports activities. Therefore, trauma is distinguished according to its cause, which can be chemical, like projection of toxic products, physical, like burns, and mechanical, like contusion and perforation.
SN: Now let’s go through some most common emergency situations. So, let’s begin with the basic scratched eye.
TN: Ok. From what I know, the common causes of eye lacerations are when the eye gets poked or when rubbing the eye with a foreign body such as dust or sand inside it. It’s therefore very important to seek medical help or emergency care to avoid bacterial infection or fungus as this can cause serious harm almost immediately. Even blindness can result. In all cases, if a solid object penetrates the eye, we should not remove it as this can cause more injury. Immediate medical care should be sought.
SN: Anything to tell me about household products?
TN: Yes. It’s usually when the eye gets unexpected splashes like with bleach, oven and toilet bowl cleaners, hair sprayers or other aerosols. These chemicals can get to the eye by rubbing the eyes with unclean hands. We can then have a burning sensation, redness, pain and blurry vision. Here, the first thing to do is probably to put the head under a steady stream of barely warm tap water for about 15 minutes, and then let it run into the eye and down the face. Then we should see the ophthalmologist or seek urgent care and be sure to tell exactly what kind of substance got into the eye and what has been done about it so far. The effects of exposure to chemical substances can range from minor irritation to even blindness.
SN: Now, I’d like you to tell me about eye swelling.
TN: Eye swelling, maybe also swollen eyelids, can result from being struck by an object like a tennis ball moving at high speed. The best immediate treatment for this type of eye injury is an ice pack. We might have a simple black eye from this, but we should see an eye doctor to make sure there’s no internal damage.
SN: Now let’s say that, in general, one asks you what to do in a domestic accident that implies eye injury, and not being able to describe exactly what happened.
TN: The best thing to do here, probably, is to contact an eye care practitioner immediately for advice. However, in a penetrating eye injury or an eye knocked out of the socket, it may be better to get to the hospital immediately without taking time to try calling anyone. Depending on the type of eye injury, the doctor may want you to flush your eye with water or saline solution. In more serious situations, surgery might be needed.
Decrease in visual acuity
Diminution de l’acuité visuelle
Gonflement des yeux
It’s necessary to seek medical help or emergency care in eye scratches to avoid an infection which can cause serious harm almost immediately.
→ Il est très important de demander une aide médicale ou des soins d’urgence au cas d’égratignures ou de lacérations de l’œil pour éviter une infection qui peut causer de graves dommages presque immédiatement.
If a solid object penetrates the eye, we should not remove it as this can cause more injury. Immediate medical care should be sought.
→ Si un objet solide pénètre dans l’œil, il ne faut pas le retirer car cela peut aggraver la blessure. Il faut demander des soins médicaux immédiats.
The best immediate treatment for eye swelling is an ice pack. We might have a simple black eye from this, but we should see an eye doctor to make sure there’s no internal damage.
→ Le meilleur traitement immédiat pour un gonflement des yeux est une poche de glace. On peut avoir un simple œil noir, mais il faut consulter un ophtalmologue pour s’assurer qu’il n’y a pas de lésions internes.
In a penetrating eye injury or an eye knocked out of the socket, it may be better to get to the hospital immediately without taking time to try calling anyone.
→ Dans le cas d’une blessure pénétrante ou d’un œil arraché de son orbite, il serait préférable de se rendre immédiatement à l’hôpital sans prendre le temps d’essayer d’appeler qui que ce soit.