Quick: someone has something wrong with their eye. Do you know what to do?
Eye emergencies can be very scary. You want to avoid a needless trip to the doctor but failing to treat some types of eye emergencies could cost someone their vision. Familiarize yourself with the following situations to know what to do in the event of an eye emergency.
Types of Eye Emergencies
Traumatic eye injury/accident
Accidents and eye injuries are common causes of eye emergencies. Accidents typically involve having a foreign object enter the eye, but blunt-force trauma and burns can occur, too.
What to do: Apply a cold compress to the affected eye to reduce pain and swelling; do not apply pressure to the compress. Seek immediate care from an eye doctor if the patient has severe pain or reduced vision. Never attempt to remove any object penetrating the eye, and do not wash out the eye in case of a cut or puncture of the eye or eyelid.
Foreign body in the eye
A foreign body can scratch the cornea, which is the transparent tissue covering the front part of the eye. It can also cut the eye or eyelid. Left untreated, some particles can cause further damage. For example, metallic particles can cause rusting spots on the eyes if left in place.
What to do: Avoid rubbing the eye. The eye may tear up enough to wash out the speck. In some cases, you will need to irrigate the eye with a saline solution or artificial tears. If the particle does not rinse out; seek medical care from a same-day appointment service.
Chemicals can burn the delicate tissues that make up the eye.
What to do: Flush the eye with saline (preferred) or water for 15 minutes; do not try to neutralize the chemical with other chemicals. Leave the eye uncovered, and seek care from a same-day appointment service.
Noticeable vision changes
Noticeable vision changes, or vision changes that come on suddenly, require immediate care. Vision changes are often the result of a problem with the cornea or retina, which is the light-sensitive layer of tissue covering the inside of the eye.
What to do: Seek help right away, as conditions that cause sudden vision changes can result in permanent vision loss if left untreated.
Changes in the appearance of one or both eyes
A change in appearance may indicate a serious eye problem. A red eye may be the result of conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. Eye trauma or an underlying condition may cause the pupils to be different sizes. Bulging eyes may be the result of an injury to the eye socket, abnormal blood vessels behind the eyes, or other conditions.
What to do: Seek medical care from an eye professional.
For more information about eye accidents and what to do in case of an eye emergency, consult with the vision professionals at EyeCareToday – the same day, walk-in clinic at Illinois Eye Center in Peoria, Illinois.