Eye injuries - Symptoms 

Eye injury symptoms 

Injuries to the eye can cause many different symptoms, some of the most common types are outlined below. 

Common eye injuries

Corneal abrasions

Symptoms of a corneal abrasion (where the transparent front cover of the eye – the cornea – is damaged) include:

  • eye pain
  • sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • increase in tears produced by the eye
  • blurred or distorted vision
  • squinting caused by the muscle surrounding the eye going into spasm
  • feeling that something is in your eye and can't be removed


Symptoms of uveitis (where the middle section of the eye becomes swollen due to an external blow) include:

  • eye pain
  • sensitivity to light
  • deep ache in your eye, or in the brow region
  • small or irregular-shaped pupil
  • blurred vision
  • red, inflamed eye
  • increase in tears produced by the eye
  • headache

Foreign bodies

If you have something stuck in your eye, symptoms may include:

  • sensation that something is in the eye
  • increase in tears produced by the eye
  • eye pain
  • blurred or double vision
  • sensitivity to light
  • a visible foreign body on the cornea
  • if the foreign body is metal it can sometimes stain a section of the cornea – the stain is usually rust-coloured

Serious eye injuries

Chemical burn

If your eyes become exposed to hazardous chemicals (chemical burn) you may experience the following symptoms:

  • eye pain – which is often intense
  • redness of the eye
  • difficulties keeping the affected eyes open
  • swelling of the eyelid
  • blurred vision

Hyphemas and orbital blowout fractures

A hyphema describs bleeding in the front section of the eye. And a orbital blowout fracture is when one of the bones that surround the eye becomes fractured.

Both injuries usually happen together as the result of a severe blow to the face.

Symptoms of hyphemas and orbital blowout fractures include:

  • eye pain – this is often worse when moving the eyes
  • blurred vision
  • doubled vision
  • swelling and bruising around the eye

It's common to develop a black eye after this type of injury (caused by blood pooling inside the eye). The black eye can persist for several weeks.

A corneal laceration

A corneal laceration is a cut to the front section of the eye. Symptoms include:

  • eye pain, which can be particularly painful
  • tearing
  • blurred vision

When to seek medical advice

Speak to your GP immediately if you have any of the following:

  • persistent eye pain
  • foreign bodies that can't be washed out 
  • blurred and decreased vision 
  • flashing lights, spots or shapes made up of shadows in your field of vision
  • redness in the eye, particularly around your iris (the coloured part of the eye that controls the amount of light that enters)
  • pain when exposed to bright light
  • an eye injury as a result of an object hitting your eye at high speed 

Go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department if your eyes have been exposed to chemicals (wash them out with water for 20 minutes first) or you have cut the front of your eye.

Page last reviewed: 17/05/2012

Next review due: 17/05/2014


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

louis22 said on 13 December 2013

I called at the hospital Monday evening the 9th Dec 13 as I thought I had something in my eye. I was told I had scratched it. I was given some Chloramphenicol eye drops. After using them for two days my eye in now better. Thank you NHS...

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