Eye Emergencies: What to Do When Time Is of the Essence

Eye Emergencies: What to Do When Time Is of the Essence

Eye Emergencies: What to Do When Time Is of the Essence

Eye Emergencies: What to Do When Time Is of the Essence

Eye Emergencies: What to Do When Time Is of the Essence

Eye Emergencies can happen anytime to anyone. When they occur, time is usually of the essence. Eye emergencies cause signs and symptoms such as pain, light sensitivity, swelling, double vision, or blurred vision. Worse, they can cause vision loss or permanent eye damage; this is why you need to know how to recognize an eye emergency and what to do when it occurs. Below are a few examples of eye emergencies. This is not a comprehensive list; if you have a condition that is not listed, but causes sudden changes in vision or pain, seek medical attention immediately.


Chemical Burns

A chemical burn occurs when a corrosive substance, such as an alkali or an acid, gets into the eye. It can cause damage to the eye, including conjunctival and corneal damage. You can also get long-term vision loss. The symptoms of a chemical burn include blurred vision, tearing, redness, and pain.

First, flush the affected eye with water for 15 to 20 minutes. Doing so can dilute and remove the chemical, reducing the risk for further damage. Avoid using substances like ointments or drops to prevent causing a chemical reaction or worsening the injury. After flushing the eye, seek immediate medical attention.  We have time carved out during our day to accommodate eye emergencies; call or text if you need to see our optometrist immediately.


Foreign Objects

Objects in the eye, like dust and debris, or larger ones like wood chips or metal shavings, can cause an eye emergency. You can expect tearing, discomfort, pain, and a sensation of something in your eye. If you get a strange object in your eye, do not try to remove it or put a covering over the eye; instead, seek immediate medical attention.  In most cases, our eye doctors can remove objects from the eye in the office without the need to visit the emergency room.


Blunt Trauma

A blunt trauma to your eye can cause serious injury, from bruises and minor cuts to damaging internal structures of the eye. Usually due to an impact from an object; it can cause cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, or even a ruptured globe, which may need immediate medical attention.

Get medical help immediately if you or someone you know experience blunt trauma. The eye doctor will assess the affected eye to decide the extent of the injury and the best course of treatment. In some cases, surgery may be the ideal option to repair the damage and prevent further vision loss.


Retinal Detachment

The retina transmits visual signals to the brain from your eyes. When it detaches from the underlying tissue, it fails to function and causes vision loss. Retinal detachment can occur due to eye injury, advanced age, or underlying medical conditions such as nearsightedness or diabetes.

Symptoms of retinal detachment include sudden light flashes, curtain-like shadows, and floaters in the visual field. Seek immediate medical help if you experience any of these. Your eye doctor will examine you thoroughly and determine the best treatment. Surgery is often recommended to reattach your retina and prevent further vision loss.


Corneal Abrasions

Corneal abrasions or scratches on the eye surface can cause pain and discomfort. They can occur due to accidental trauma, forcefully rubbing the eyes frequently, or foreign objects in the eye. The common symptoms of corneal abrasions include:


  • Tearing

  • Eye redness

  • Light sensitivity

  • Pain

  • The feeling like something is in your eye

Leaving a corneal abrasion untreated can lead to scarring, infections, and vision loss. If you or someone around you experiences this eye emergency, the first response should be to calm down. Avoid touching or rubbing the affected eye to prevent further damage and seek immediate medical attention. 

For more about eye emergencies, visit Blue Valley Vision of Overland Park at our offices in Overland Park, Kansas. Call (913) 681-2624 or (913) 808-5830 to book an appointment today.

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