Emergency Eye Care: When to Seek Immediate Attention

Situations that hurt our eyes and threaten our vision are alarming. Besides the immediate problem, there is the danger of permanent damage. When we have an eye emergency, we may need prompt medical attention to avoid irreversible loss of vision. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign that you need emergency eye care:

  • Sudden loss of vision, even if there is no pain associated with this.
  • Vision changes, such as flashes of light, double vision, and floaters.
  • Change in the appearance of the eye, such as redness, bulging or an unusual pupil size or shape.
  • Eye pain.

Eye doctors generally recommend that you seek medical attention if you have any kind of visual impairment. And remember that when you have an eye emergency, you don’t necessarily need to go to a hospital emergency room. You can contact Florida Medical Clinic about same-day visits. Let’s review common conditions and injuries that may require emergency eye care.

Emergency Eye Care Conditions

If you experience any of the following common eye emergencies, seeking same-day treatment may be recommended.

  • Detached retina. Signs of a detached retina include sudden flashes of light, floaters, and a curtain-like shadow in the field of vision. Seek immediate medical attention if experiencing these symptoms.
  • One eye not moving like the other. Signs include double vision, misalignment, or difficulty focusing.
  • Decreased or double vision. Signs include blurred sight, overlapping images, or difficulty focusing.
  • Light sensitivity. Signs include discomfort, squinting, and avoiding bright lights.
  • Bulging eyes. Signs include protrusion and discomfort. Seek immediate medical attention if experiencing this, as it may indicate serious underlying problems such as a thyroid condition or an infection.
  • New or severe headaches. Signs include eye strain, blurred vision, and light sensitivity.
  • Bruising and/or bleeding around the eye. Apply a cold compress, avoid pressure, and seek medical attention if vision is affected or if symptoms persist.
  • Red eyes and/or discharge from the eye. A red or itchy eye is usually not a serious medical concern. However, if redness is accompanied by impaired vision, a sensitivity to light, or discomfort, it may be considered urgent. Some serious eye conditions, such as herpes keratitis, corneal abrasion, or uveitis, may cause these symptoms.
  • Blood in the white of the eye. Blood in the white of the eye, known as subconjunctival hemorrhage, usually presents itself as a bright red patch. It’s usually harmless, but you should consult an eye professional if it doesn’t go away or causes pain.
  • Eye burning or stinging. Signs include redness and discomfort. Rinse the eyes with cool water or use artificial tears, and seek medical advice if symptoms persist.
  • Severe itching. Signs include redness, swelling, and watery eyes. Avoid rubbing the eyes, apply cool compresses, and use over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops. Consult a healthcare professional if symptoms persist.

Dealing with Foreign Objects in the Eye

Many eye emergencies can lead to temporary or permanent vision loss if you don’t seek prompt medical attention. Here are four eye emergencies related to foreign objects coming into contact with the eye.

  • Scratched eye. Do not put pressure on your eye, rub it, or touch it with anything, such as a cotton swab. Rinse with saline or a sterile solution (but not redness-relieving eye drops). Do not delay in seeking medical assistance. Many scratches and corneal abrasions are minor and heal on their own, but it is recommended to have it checked by a medical professional.
  • Foreign object under the eyelid. If a foreign object is stuck under the eyelid, do not rub it. Instead, use saline to flush the eye and try to remove the foreign body. Seek prompt medical attention if that fails or if pain persists and it feels like there still is something in your eye.
  • Foreign object embedded in the eye. Never try to extract anything that has gone into your eye. Do not rinse the eye, rub it or apply pressure. Instead, protect your eye with a shield and make an emergency appointment.

Chemical Exposure and Eye Emergencies

Signs of a chemical burn in the eye include redness, irritation, excessive tearing, blurred vision, pain, and sensitivity to light. If you experience these symptoms, you should immediately flush the eye out with a saline solution for about fifteen minutes (try taking out your contact lenses first if you’re wearing them). Try to find information on the chemical that got into your eye. Avoid trying to neutralize the chemical by flushing the eye with a different chemical or substance. After you flush, do not bandage the eye. Instead, seek immediate treatment. Remaining chemicals in the eye could cause permanent damage.

Sports-Related Eye Injuries: Prevention and Care

The orbit, or eye socket, is structurally engineered to provide the eye with protection. Falls, car accidents, and sports injuries can cause fractures in the bones that comprise the eye socket and cause pain, double vision, and loss of vision.

To prevent sports-related eye injuries, wear protective eyewear, like goggles, helmets and face shields. Regular eye examinations are crucial as well. These precautions safeguard the eyes against impacts, UV exposure, and debris, which is vital to preserving eye health and reducing the risk of severe injuries.

When sports-related eye injuries occur, it’s essential to avoid rubbing the eye. Do not put pressure on the affected eye or try to remove any objects stuck in the eye. Apply a cold compress, gently, to ease pain and swelling. Seek prompt medical attention for proper evaluation and treatment to prevent potential complications.

Getting Help When You Need It

Florida Medical Clinic provides same-day eye treatment. From conjunctivitis to corneal abrasions, the clinic’s trained eye doctors can quickly treat a variety of problems. Having access to same-day care means that our patients get a prompt diagnosis, the right treatment, and comfort — without interminable emergency room waits.

Meet Dr. Rachel Marks

Dr. Marks, a Tampa native, brings a wealth of experience in optometry to the Florida Medical Clinic. She specializes in primary care and ocular disease in our Land O’ Lakes and North Tampa locations. Dr. Marks is a compassionate professional who provides emergency eye-care services, using her expertise in triaging and treating ocular emergencies. Patients benefit from her commitment to same-day eye care as she blends her advanced knowledge with personalized attention. Call 813-284-2255 to make an appointment.



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