Do you know what is classed as an eye emergency? Accidents, injuries and sudden health issues can occur at any time and often when we least expect them. Our eyes are just as likely to be affected but waiting too long to seek help can prolong your discomfort and increase your risk of experiencing permanent damage to your eyes and vision.
Here are seven of the most common eye emergencies and what you should do if you are affected by any of these scenarios.
Chemicals can be found in many different types of products, from cleaning solutions and pesticides to perfume and deodorant. It can be easy to accidentally get chemicals in your eyes, either directly, such as by not paying attention to which way a spray nozzle is pointing, or indirectly, such as getting chemical onto your fingers and then touching your eye.
Any exposure to chemicals can be extremely hazardous to your eyes, and immediate action is needed to limit or prevent any long-term damage to your vision. If you experience a chemical burn you should immediately rinse the eye with copious amounts of fresh, cool water, holding the eye open to ensure flow gets right inside the eyes. You should do this for at least 15 minutes. If you have someone with you, ask them to contact your eye doctor to obtain advice on what to do next – which will be based on the chemical your eye has been exposed to.
A blunt force trauma is usually the result of a slip, trip or fall, or a sport’s or fighting injury. It is characterized as a blow to the face/eye that doesn’t cause an open wound. People who have experienced a blunt force trauma to the eye will probably suffer from pain, reduced or double vision and potentially even immediate bruising to the area.
In most instances, a blunt force trauma to the eye can be cared for at home. However, if there is visible damage to the eye socket, bleeding with no obvious wound, unusual swelling, severe pain or visual disturbances, we recommend that you seek an appointment with your emergency eye doctor for further advice.
A penetrating injury to the eye requires immediate attention because of the risk of infection, as well as permanent damage to the eye and your vision. Most penetrating injuries occur as a result of impaling the eye on a sharp object, such as by falling on it, or being exposed to shattered glass, for example in a car accident. Most penetrating injuries will cause blood, pain and vision problems. It’s essential that you don’t try and remove any exposed foreign objects yourself. Instead, cover the eye with a shield, such as a paper cup, and get to your eye doctor or emergency room as soon as possible.
Everyone gets something in their eye from time to time, but if you find that you have a foreign body lodged in your eye that you can’t get out yourself, or if it is something sharp or abrasive – such as a shard of glass, a staple or chunk of stone, you may need medical attention to remove it. Never be tempted to rub your eye to try and dislodge it as this could cause a corneal abrasion, bleeding and other complications. If you aren’t able to rinse the foreign body clear yourself, contact your emergency eye doctor as quickly as you can.
If the middle part of your eye becomes inflamed and swollen, you could have a condition called uveitis. Uveitis can cause mild to severe vision loss if it isn’t treated, so it is essential that it is detected and diagnosed as quickly as possible. Other symptoms of uveitis include pain, blurred vision, small pupils and sensitivity to light. Some people who have certain diseases and conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, shingles and ulcerative colitis are more likely to develop uveitis. If you experience any of the symptoms listed here, speak to your eye doctor right away.
Pain is a warning sign that should never be ignored, especially when it comes to your eyes and vision. Occasional moments of eye pain aren’t usually anything to worry about, but if you are experiencing persistent discomfort or severe pain, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s essential that you make an appointment with your emergency eye doctor as soon as possible.
Any sudden vision loss is a sign that you’ve got a problem and should be classed as an emergency. Common causes of sudden vision loss include eye trauma, blocked blood flow to or from the retina and retinal detachment. If you experience a sudden loss of peripheral vision, central vision or immediately blurred vision, get help from your eye doctor immediately.
To learn more or in the event of an eye emergency, call North Shore Eye Health and Wellness at (262) 421-4412 to reach our office in Cedarburg, WI.