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Eye Emergencies (Pink/Red Eyes)

Red, Pink or Sore Eyes?

We are ready to look after ALL of your eye care needs in one location. In addition to the services you already rely on us for such as routine eye exams, contact lenses. designer frames and eyeglasses - think of your Optometrist first for:

  • sore, red, or itchy eyes
  • treatment of "pink eye" and other bacterial infections
  • removal of foreign bodies from the eye (such as wood or metal)
  • treatment of eye allergies or burns
  • emergency eye care

This is convenient and cost effective for your whole family and you can be sure you are receiving the attention of an eye care specialist.

Eye Emergencies

We are always willing to help, should you ever experience an eye emergency. Our office provides emergency services for eye infections, eye injuries and other eye urgencies.  State of the art equipment allows us to examine the front surface of the eye and also digitally scan inside the eye for infection or damage We accommodate many eye emergencies such as:

  • Eye infections
  • Foreign materials stuck in the eyes
  • Eye trauma
  • Scratched eyes
  • Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Lost or broken contact lenses or eyeglasses
  • Flashes of light in the vision
  • “Floaters” in the vision
  • Red or painful eyes
  • Dislodged contact lenses
  • Uncomfortable, itchy, or irritated eyes

Studies have shown that an overwhelming number of emergency room visits could have been treated by an optometrist. These ranged from foreign bodies to severe eye allergies to eye infections as the most common reasons for emergency room visits. It is not always necessary to go to an emergency room for eye emergencies. Optometrists are equipped to treat the majority of eye emergencies.

We understand the importance of eye care when you encounter symptoms such as those listed above. These are signs that an immediate evaluation or consultation is necessary - please call us to set one up if you are experiencing an eye emergency of any kind.

Foreign Body Removal

A foreign body is something such as an eyelash, sawdust, sand, or dirt can that gets into the eyes. The main symptom is irritation or pain. Depending on what it is and how the injury happened, the foreign body may pierce the eye and cause serious injury or it may simply go away with no long-term problem.

The foreign object may set off an inflammatory cascade, resulting in dilation of the surrounding vessels and subsequent edema of the lids, conjunctiva, and cornea. If not removed, a foreign body can cause infection.

If anything is stuck in your eye for more than a period of a couple of hours, you must immediately cease all attempts to remove it yourself. Keep in mind that the eyes are an extremely delicate organ and any attempts to try anything extra ordinary with them can only have negative and adverse results. If the foreign body you are talking about is not bothering you too much, then you are advised to visit an eye doctor to take care of it. If not you may need to call to emergency service of your region.

If there is a foreign body in your eye, such as a piece of grit, your eye doctor may try and remove it. They will put anaesthetic eye drops in your eye first, in order to numb it and prevent any pain.

If the foreign body is easy to get to, it may be possible to remove it by simply rinsing your eye with water, or by wiping it away with a cotton wool bud or triangle of card. However, if this is unsuccessful, your eye doctor may try and remove the foreign body by lifting it out with the tip of a small metal instrument.

The foreign body could be stuck underneath your upper eyelid, especially if you can feel something there, or you have scratches or grazes (abrasions) on the top half of the transparent outer layer of your eye (cornea). If this is the case, it may be necessary to gently turn your eyelid inside out in order to remove the foreign body.

Once the anaesthetic eye drops have worn off, your eye may feel a bit uncomfortable until your abrasion heals.

Whatever is happening with your eyes or if you suffer or even suspect that a foreign body has penetrated the outer eye layer better go without delay to the nearest treatment center. Doing nothing can lead to loss of vision, premature cataracts and damage to the retina so do not take any chances, delay is dangerous.

Q&A

Eye Infections

  • What is an eye infection? Eye infections are caused by a virus or bacteria in the environment that attacks the eye. The most common of these infections is conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye. An eye infection can happen in almost any part of the eye, such as the eyelid (blepharitis), the vitreous (vitritis), the optic nerve (neuroretinitis) and the cornea (keratitis)
  • What should I do if I spill chemicals in my eye? To treat a chemical eye burn: Flush the eyes out with cool water for at least 15 minutes. As you rinse, use your fingers to hold your eye open as wide as possible and roll your eye to ensure the greatest coverage. Remove contact lenses, if applicable, if they do not come out during flushing. After flushing, it is best to visit your eye care professional to treat any inflammation or damage which may have occurred to the eye and surrounding tissues.
  • What should I do if I get sand, metal, or wood, in my eyes? A corneal foreign body is an object (eg, metal, glass, wood, plastic, sand) either superficially adherent to or embedded in the cornea of the eye. The removal of a corneal foreign body is a procedure commonly performed in the eye doctor’s office or emergency department setting. If corneal foreign bodies are not removed in a timely manner, they can cause prolonged pain and lead to complications such as infection and ocular necrosis.
  • I am seeing spots or floating colors suddenly, what do I do? Eye floaters are spots in your vision. They may look to you like black or gray specks, strings, or cobwebs that drift about when you move your eyes and appear to dart away when you try to look at them directly.

    Most eye floaters are caused by age-related changes that occur as the jelly-like substance (vitreous) inside your eyes becomes more liquid. Microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump and can cast tiny shadows on your retina. The shadows you see are called floaters.

    If you notice a sudden increase in eye floaters, contact an eye specialist immediately — especially if you also see light flashes or lose your peripheral vision. These can be symptoms of an emergency that requires prompt attention.

  • Are eye infections dangerous? Infection can be an underlying cause of a corneal ulcer, which resembles an abscess on the eye. If left untreated, a corneal ulcer can lead to severe vision loss. More serious eye infections can penetrate the deeper, interior portions of the eye to create sight-threatening conditions such as endophthalmitis.
  • Can my child go to school with an eye infection? Viral pink eye may last for up to two weeks. You do not need to keep your child out of school or daycare for that whole time. Children with bacterial pink eye may return to school or daycare 24 hours after starting eyedrops or ointment.

Foreign Body Removal

  • I have sand stuck in my eye, is it dangerous? There is potential for the sand to lodge within the upper lid or ocular tissues. When this happens, blinking can cause the sand particle to incur significant abrasions to the cornea causing damage and possibly decreasing vision.
  • I have something stuck in my eye, how should I remove it? Most of the time when you get something in your eye you can carefully remove it. In some cases, an object in your eye can scratch your cornea. A scratched cornea takes a couple of days to heal and may require treatment from your health care provider. If you get a chemical in your eye or something is imbedded in your eye, you need immediate medical treatment. Follow the instructions below for treating your eye.

How do I remove a particle in my eye?

If something is embedded in your eye (such as a glass fragment), do not try to remove it. Cover both eyes with a wet washcloth and have someone take you to an eye doctor or emergency room.

To remove a loose eyelash, dirt particle, or another object in your eye:

  • Wash your hands before touching your eyes.
  • Look in a mirror and try to find the object in your eye.
  • Try the following methods to remove the object:
  • Try to blink to allow your tears to wash it out. Do not rub your eye.
  • If the particle is behind your upper eyelid, pull the upper lid out and over the lower lid and roll your eye upward. This can help get the particle to come off the upper lid and flush out of the eye.
  • If the object is in the corner of your eye or under your lower eyelid, remove it with a wet cotton swab or the corner of a clean cloth while holding the lower lid open.
  • Fill an eyecup or small juice glass with lukewarm water. Put your eye over the cup of water and open your eye to rinse your eye and flush the object out.
  • You can pour lukewarm water into your eye or hold your eye under a faucet to flush out your eye.

I feel like I have dirt in my eye when I wear contact lenses, is that dangerous?

If this is an ongoing feeling, it is best to contact your eye care professional who fit your contact lenses on you. There is a possibility that the contact lens’s parameters need to be changed or you may need to be fitted in a different type of contact lens altogether.

I spilled a chemical in my eye, what should I do?

To treat a chemical eye burn: Flush the eyes out with cool water for at least 15 minutes. As you rinse, use your fingers to hold your eye open as wide as possible and roll your eye to ensure the greatest coverage. Remove contact lenses, if applicable, if they do not come out during flushing. After flushing, it is best to visit your eye care professional to treat any inflammation or damage which may have occurred to the eye and surrounding tissues.

I spilled some chemical in my eye, should I remove my contacts or leave them in? After flushing, immediately remove your contact lenses and discard.

Scratches

  • My child scratched my eye…what should I do? See your eye care provider if you scratch your eye. If you’re in a lot of pain, are having any trouble seeing or are worried about your eye, go to the emergency room.

    Most corneal abrasions and eye scratches are minor and will heal on their own in a few days, but you should still see a doctor to get an eye exam.

    Your optometrist may treat an eye scratch with antibiotic eye drops or ointment. You may be given prescription steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation and reduce the chance of scarring. You may also be given lubricating eye drops to make you more comfortable.

    There are no over-the-counter eye drops specifically for eye scratches. If you have scratched your eye, you shouldn’t use any eye drops without asking a doctor first.

If you have a scratched eye, here are some things you should—and should not—do:

  • DO rinse your eye with saline solution or clean water. If you don’t have an eyecup, use a small, clean glass. Rest the rim of the glass on the bone at the base of your eye socket, below your lower eyelid. The water or saline solution may flush the foreign object from your eye.
  • DO blink. Blinking can help get rid of small bits of dust or sand in your eye.
  • DO pull your upper eyelid over your lower eyelid. The lashes from your lower eyelid may be able to brush away any foreign object caught underneath your upper eyelid.
  • DO wear sunglasses. If your eye is sensitive to light because of the scratch, sunglasses will make you more comfortable while you heal.
  • DON’T rub your eye. Rubbing your eye can make the scratch worse.
  • DON’T touch your eye with anything. Fingers, cotton swabs, and other objects won’t help remove any foreign objects and could hurt your eye more. The object that caused the scratch may be gone even though you still feel like something is in your eye.
  • DON’T wear your contact lenses. Wearing your contact lenses will slow the healing process and could cause complications, like contact lens-related infections.
  • DON’T use redness-relieving eye drops. Over-the-counter redness-reducing eye drops can be painful if you have an eye scratch and they won’t help you heal any faster.
  • Is a scratch on the eye dangerous? There is always the potential for serious effects when damaging eye tissue, that is why it is best to play it safe and see your eye care professional ensure that the issue is resolved properly.

Trauma

  • I got hit in the eye with a baseball, is that dangerous for my vision?
  • Should I visit an eye doctor if I got a black eye?
  • I have pain in my eye after getting a black eye, should I visit the emergency room or an eye doctor?

All of these incidents require one to be seen immediately by your eye care professional. If an eye care professional is not available, one should be seen by a professional in the emergency room.

Kids

  • My toddler is complaining that his eye hurts, should I make an appointment with the Optometrist? If he/she has continuous complaints about eye pain over an extended period time (meaning hours), it is best to set up an appointment with your optometrist.
  • My child came home from school saying that his eye hurts, what should I do? If he/she has continuous complaints about eye pain over an extended period time (meaning hours), it is best to set up an appointment with your optometrist.
  • My child’s eye looks very red, what should I do? When a child’s eye is red for an extended period of time (meaning hours), it is best to set up an appointment with your optometrist in order to diagnose and treat the problem.
  • My child has a weird bump in his eye, should I make an appointment? Anytime an anomaly on the eye is seen, it is always the best and safest protocol to have it evaluated by an eye care professional.

Severe Emergencies

  • I just lost my vision in one eye, should I visit the emergency room?
  • My eye is bleeding what should I do?
  • I am seeing double, should I go to the eye doctor?
  • I have severe pain in my eye, what do I do?
  • I feel a lot of pressure behind my eye, what should I do?

All of these incidents require one to be seen immediately by your eye care professional. If an eye care professional is not available, one should be seen by a professional at the emergency room.

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