An eye care emergency is defined as medical care for conditions requiring prompt medical attention due to a sudden change in ocular or visual health.
Eye trauma, chemical exposure to the eyes, foreign objects in the eye, and ocular infections are all considered eye emergencies and should be given immediate medical attention. If you have an eye emergency, it's critical to get immediate care in order to avoid permanent damage to your vision.
While some may opt to visit an emergency room for an eye injury, research shows that most emergency room visits for eye emergencies could have been treated by an experienced optometrist. Furthermore, going to the hospital for an eye emergency during the coronavirus pandemic isn't the fastest or safest way to treat the problem; the hospitals are already overloaded and you risk catching the virus during your visit.
Dr. Denise Smith can offer personalized treatment for a wide range of eye emergencies and other ocular conditions. Call The Center for Vision Development for further instructions or call the number provided in the voicemail.
What Is an Eye Emergency?
Eye emergencies refer to any sudden onset of symptoms or obvious eye trauma that affect vision. These emergencies range from severe eye pain or vision loss to a sudden blow to the eye or chemical exposure. Call us if you experience any of the following:
- Eye pain
- Bleeding of the eye
- Blood in the white of the eye
- Swollen or bulging eye
- Vision loss or double vision
- New eye flashes or floaters
- Pupils that are unequal in size
- Severe photophobia (light sensitivity)
- Being hit in the eye
- Bruising around the eye
- Eye discharge
- Suspected eye infection
- Severe burning, stinging, itching eyes
- Scratched or cut eye or eyelid
- Split contact lenses in the eye
- A piece of broken eyeglass lens in your eye
- Foreign object stuck in the eye
If you’re uncertain whether or not your condition is an emergency, contact The Center for Vision Development immediately.
What Should I Do If I Have An Eye Emergency?
If you have a cut or foreign object in your eye, or if you suffered from other forms of eye trauma, DO NOT:
- Rub your eye
- Attempt to remove any foreign objects embedded in the eye
- Use tweezers or swabs in your eye
- Put any ointments or medication into your eye
First Aid for Eye Injuries
Refer to the following guidelines to prevent any long-term vision loss or eye damage.
If a contact lens is in the eye, do not attempt to remove the contact lens using your fingers. Instead, flush saline solution or water over the lens immediately as it may dislodge the lens. Contact lenses can trap harmful chemicals against the cornea, causing unnecessary damage.
Seek emergency medical care promptly after flushing.
To avoid eye exposure to toxic or abrasive chemicals, always wear protective eyewear and use caution when handling these types of products.
Although your first instinct may be to rub your eye to get the foreign object out, try to resist the urge–as rubbing can further damage the eye.
If the object isn’t embedded in the eye, you may try to remove it by flushing it out. First, wash your hands with warm water and soap to prevent contamination or infection. Then, flush the eye thoroughly with clean water or preferably saline, if available. You can also try to induce tearing by using your fingers to gently lift the upper eyelid over the lower eyelid. Causing the eye to tear may flush out the foreign object.
If the object is visible, and not embedded on the eye, you can try to gently wipe it away with a damp, clean washcloth.
Seek immediate medical attention if the above methods do not work.
Blows to the Eye
To treat a black eye, apply a cold compress to decrease swelling and support healing. Use the compress for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, allowing the eye to rest between applications. A cold compress can be made by wrapping a bag of peas, or other soft frozen items, in a clean cloth.
Never place ice directly on the skin; use a clean cloth between the skin and ice.
Call Dr. Denise Smith immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms after the eye is impacted:
- Changes in vision
- Persistent or increasing pain
- Bleeding or any blood on the outside or inside the eye
- Any visible difference to the appearance of your eyes
Cut or Puncture to the Eye
This type of injury always requires immediate medical care, so after you call us, make sure to follow these precautionary measures to avoid further injury:
- Don't attempt to remove something embedded in the eye
- Don’t wash the eye or eyelid
- Try to shield the eye with something protective, for example – use a pad of cotton wool as an eye shield and tape it to the surrounding eye area
If you have an eye emergency, don't delay treatment. Timing is everything — the earlier you get treatment, the less vision damage you'll have over the long term. Take immediate action by contacting The Center for Vision Development today. Dr. Denise Smith will treat any eye emergency you have or refer you to specialized care (i.e. surgery), as needed.
The Center for Vision Development serves patients from Austin, all throughout Texas.