First aid for eye injuries in children & babies

Essential first aid for eye injuries in children and babies: A must-know guide

Eye injuries in children and babies can be particularly distressing due to their potential severity and long-term impact. Whether from everyday accidents or more severe incidents, knowing how to respond swiftly and appropriately is crucial. In this blog, Rose provides essential information and practical steps to manage eye injuries effectively, ensuring the best possible outcomes for our youngest.

Key facts and statistics

Eye injuries are a significant concern among young children, accounting for annual emergency visits. Studies indicate that most of these injuries occur at home and are often preventable. Immediate and correct first aid response can drastically reduce the severity of these injuries, emphasising the need for awareness and education in this area.

Key definitions

  • Corneal abrasion - A scratch on the eye's cornea, often caused by contact with dust, dirt, sand, or fingernails.
  • Chemical burn - Damage caused by exposure to household chemicals, often resulting in severe irritation or burns.
  • Foreign body - Any object lodged in the eye that is not naturally supposed to be there, such as toys or debris.

Relevant legislation, regulations, and best practices

In the UK, organisations such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) provide guidelines and regulations to manage first aid effectively in educational and childcare settings. It is crucial to comply with these standards to ensure safety and legality in managing health emergencies.

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 mandate that employers, including schools and nurseries, ensure appropriate first-aid provisions are in place for all, including trained personnel and suitable first aid kits.

Immediate actions

  • Assess the situation - Quickly determine the severity of the injury. If the child is in severe pain, has difficulty seeing, or has visible damage to the eye, seek professional medical help immediately.
  • Do not rub the eye - Rubbing can exacerbate the injury, especially if there has been chemical exposure or physical objects in the eye.
  • Cleanse for chemical exposures - If chemicals are involved, flush the eye with cool water for at least 15 minutes. This can significantly reduce damage and should be done immediately.
  • Cover for physical trauma - If there is an impact injury, gently cover the eye with a clean cloth or a sterile dressing to protect from further damage.

Managing specific injuries

  • Foreign bodies - If an object is visible and not embedded, you may try flushing it out with water. Do not attempt to remove objects that are stuck.
  • Cuts or punctures - Do not wash out the eye or try to remove anything stuck in it. Cover the eye with a rigid shield without pressing it against the eye and seek emergency medical attention.


  • Prevention - Secure environments by childproofing areas where accidents are likely and keep hazardous substances out of reach.
  • Education - Regular first aid training for parents, caregivers, and childcare facility staff can dramatically reduce the risks associated with eye injuries.
  • First aid kits - Maintain well-equipped first aid kits that include sterile eye wash and eye dressings.


Understanding how to manage eye injuries in children and babies is crucial for parents, caregivers, and educators. While prevention is the best strategy, being prepared to act quickly and effectively when accidents happen can save a child's eyesight. We encourage all caregivers to educate themselves on these essential skills.

Click here to find comprehensive first aid training courses that cover all aspects of child and baby safety, including managing eye injuries. Ensure you are prepared to act confidently in a crisis – your knowledge could make all the difference.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always seek professional medical assistance in emergency situations.

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

Essential first aid for eye injuries in children and babies - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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