Your Advocate After a Life-Changing Injury
In an instant, a car accident or other unexpected event can result in the loss of vision in an eye or total blindness. If a family member has suffered an eye injury due to the negligence of another party, he or she is entitled to compensation. Because of the catastrophic nature of eye injuries, the injury victim will have considerable medical costs and other expenses related to the injury, including lost income and pain and suffering.
I am Ira Maurer, an attorney who represents people who have suffered catastrophic injuries. My law firm works hard to help injured people obtain the compensation they need to rebuild their lives. I will be your strong advocate, seeking maximum compensation for you.
Representing Victims of Negligence
My law firm has extensive experience representing clients in cases involving vision loss caused by construction accidents, defective products and other acts of negligence. I represent people in cases involving these types of eye injuries:
- Corneal injuries — Caused by lacerations, burns, chemical exposure and foreign objects.
- Retinal damage and detached retinas — Caused by impact trauma.
- Enucleation — Total loss of an eye caused by impacts and explosions.
- Disease-related causes — Resulting from misdiagnosis.
- Surgical errors — During eye surgery and Lasik treatment
Diagnosing Eye Injuries: As with any medical condition, when diagnosing an eye injury, the history is very important. How the injury occurred will often help the emergency medicine doctor or ophthalmologist focus the examination. A patient's vision (visual acuity) will be checked, so patients should bring their glasses to the office visit. The ophthalmologist is interested in preserving the best vision that an individual's eye(s) can achieve.
To check for injuries to the cornea, the ophthalmologist or emergency medicine doctor usually places a drop of special dye or stain into the tear-lubricated area that normally lubricates the eye. The dye is called fluorescein, which stains those areas of the cornea that have been damaged. When a blue light is shined over the eye, corneal abrasions turn green in appearance.
A device called a slit lamp is often used as well. A slit lamp is essentially a special magnifying and illuminating microscope to look more closely at the eye. X-rays are rarely used, except if an orbital fracture, intraocular, or intraorbital foreign body is suspected. Corneal foreign bodies do not require X-rays.
Some common eye injuries, such as deep puncture wounds from accidents, could require immediate treatment or surgery to prevent permanent eye damage resulting in vision loss. Minor surface scratches, on the other hand, may need only simple monitoring after an initial visit to the eye doctor to make sure complications such as eye infections don't occur.
Common conditions associated with eye injury and trauma include:
- Scratched Eye (Corneal Abrasion): Common causes of abrasions to the eye's surface (corneal abrasions) are getting poked in the eye or rubbing the eye when a foreign body is present, such as dust or sand. Corneal abrasions are very uncomfortable and cause eye redness and severe sensitivity to light. Eye lacerations usually require emergency care. Don't hesitate to visit an eye doctor immediately. If you know something has scratched your eye, it's very important to see your eye doctor or an emergency room/urgent care center to seek treatment for your eye injury. Scratches also can make your eye susceptible to infection from bacteria or a fungus. Certain types of bacteria and fungi can enter the eye through a scratch and cause serious harm in as little as 24 hours. Even blindness can result. This is especially true if whatever scratched your eye is dirty or contaminated.
- Penetrating or Foreign Objects in the Eye: If a foreign object such as metal or a fish hook penetrates your eye, visit the emergency room/urgent care center right away. You could cause even more injury to your eye if you attempt to remove the object yourself or if you rub your eye. Your eye also may have corneal foreign bodies that are small, sharp pieces of a substance (usually metal) that have become embedded in the eye's surface (cornea), but have not penetrated into the interior of the eye. Metal foreign bodies can quickly form a rust ring and a significant scar. Your eye doctor should remove these foreign bodies as soon as possible.
- Caustic Foreign Substance in the Eye (Chemical Burn): Getting unexpectedly splashed or sprayed in the eye by substances other than clean, harmless water can be scary. Some substances burn or sting but are fairly harmless in the long run, while others can cause serious injury. The basic makeup of the chemical involved can make a lot of difference, such as: Acid. As a general rule, acids can cause considerable redness and burning but can be washed out fairly easily. Alkali. Substances or chemicals that are basic (alkali) are much more serious but may not seem so because they don't cause as much immediate eye pain or redness as acids. Some examples of alkali substances are oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and even chalk dust. Chemical exposures and burns are usually caused by a splash of liquid getting in your eye. But they can be caused in other ways as well, such as by rubbing your eyes and transferring a chemical from your hands to your eyes or by getting sprayed in the eye by hair spray or other aerosols. Depending on the substance, the effects of chemical exposures causing eye injuries can range from minor irritation and red eyes to serious eye damage and even blindness.
- Eye Swelling: Eye swelling and puffy, swollen eyelids can result from being struck in the eye such as from a baseball moving at a high speed. The best immediate treatment for this type of eye injury is an ice pack. You may have a simple black eye (bruising around the eye), but you should see an eye doctor to make sure there's no internal damage.
- Subconjunctival Hemorrhages (Eye Bleeding): This eye injury usually looks worse than it really is. A subconjunctival hemorrhage involves leakage of blood from one or more breaks in a blood vessel that lies between the white of the eye (sclera) and its clear covering (conjunctiva). Subconjunctival hemorrhages are quite common and can occur from even minor injury to the eye. They may be limited to a small sector of the eye, or they can extend over the entire eye, making the white sclera appear bright red. A subconjunctival hemorrhage is painless and does not cause temporary or permanent vision loss. No treatment is required. Over the course of several weeks, the blood will clear and the eye will return to a normal appearance.
- Traumatic Iritis: Traumatic iritis is inflammation of the colored part of the eye that surrounds the pupil (iris) and occurs after an eye injury. Traumatic iritis can be caused by a poke in the eye or a blow to the eye from a blunt object, such as a ball or a hand. Traumatic iritis usually requires treatment. Even with medical treatment, there is a risk of permanent decreased vision.
- Hyphemas and Orbital Blowout Fractures: A hyphema (high-FEE-mah) is bleeding in the anterior chamber of the eye, the space between the cornea and the iris. Orbital blowout fractures are cracks or breaks in the facial bones surrounding the eye. Hyphemas and blowout fractures are serious eye injuries and medical emergencies. They are caused by significant blunt force trauma to the eye and face, such as getting hit by a bat, baseball, hockey stick or puck, or getting kicked in the face.
- Detached Retina: The retina is a thin layer of light sensitive nerve cells at the back of the eye. Light goes through the optical system of the eye and hits the retina, as it does on the film of a (non-digital) camera. The image produced by the light that hits the retina is translated into neural impulses and sent to the brain through the optic nerve - put simply, an image focuses on the retina, nerve cells process this information and send it via electrical impulses through the optic nerve to the brain. Retinal detachment is when the retina peels away, or detaches from its underlying layer of support tissue at the back of the eye. Initially, detachment might only occur in a small part of the retina, however, if not treated promptly the whole retina may peel off and the person will not be able to see from that eye. In most cases detached retina only occurs in one eye. It is a medical emergency. Types of surgical treatment include: Laser surgery (photocoagulation) where a laser beam is directed through a contact lens or ophthalmoscope. The laser makes burns around the retinal tear, resulting in scarring tissue which fuses the tissue back together; Cryopexy (freezing) - cryosurgery (cryotherapy) is the application of extreme cold to destroy abnormal or diseased tissue and in this case produces a delicate scar that helps connect the retina to the wall of the eye; Pneumatic retinopexy - with this procedure the surgeon may start by freezing (cryopexy) the tear area and then injects a bubble into the vitreous cavity of the eye, causing the retina to push against the tear and the detached area. Scleral buckling - where the retina has detached, very thin bands of silicone rubber or sponge are sewn onto the sclera (outside white of the eye); and, Vitrectomy - where the vitreous gel is removed and a gas bubble or silicon oil bubble is used to hold the retina in position. Treat all eye injuries as potential emergencies, and never hesitate to go to the hospital emergency room for evaluation.
Helping You Rebuild Your Life
Getting through the trauma of the accident that caused the injury is just the first step. People who suffer a partial or complete loss of their sight must suddenly adapt to a completely different lifestyle. They must relearn to perform all tasks, from bathing to dressing and reading. They may need assistance with many things, including shopping and transportation. Before they can support themselves again, they may need vocational training.
At my law firm, I am dedicated to helping injured people obtain the financial resources, services and support they need to recover. When I represent you, I will develop a plan designed to help you collect the maximum amount permitted under the law.
If you were involved in an accident caused by someone else's negligence and were left with a severe eye injury as a result, please contact The Maurer Law Firm at 845- 896-5295 to schedule a free consultation with aggressive and experienced greater Poughkeepsie injury attorney Ira Maurer.