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Eye Emergencies

When to Seek Medical Care

In most cases, if you have continuing symptoms of pain, visual disturbance, or bleeding, you should go to an eye doctor.

If you are not sure if you have a serious eye injury, please call our office for advice.

Calling your eye doctor may be helpful in the following circumstances:

Chemical exposures: If you are not sure if the exposure is potentially serious, you have washed out your eye, and you have few symptoms, then eye doctor may be able to help you decide whether or not you should be seen immediately.

Subconjunctival hemorrhage: If you are not sure that you have this condition, your eye doctor may be able to help with the diagnosis. This condition does not require immediate medical attention.
 
Continuing pain and decreased vision after an eye injury can be warning signs that require prompt medical attention. If you have an eye doctor, he or she may be able to take care of you in the office. Otherwise, go to a hospital's emergency department.

The following conditions should be seen promptly by your eye doctor or in the emergency department:

Chemical exposures: If the substance was known to be caustic, immediate medical evaluation by either an eye doctor or in the emergency department is needed, regardless of symptoms. Acids and alkalis are the worst and require immediate attention. If the substance is not dangerous, such as soap or suntan lotion, a visit to the emergency department is not necessary, but a visit to your eye doctor's office may be helpful to alleviate any remaining symptoms. When in doubt, seek medical attention.

Lacerations: Cuts that affect the eyelid margins (where the eyelashes are) or the eyeball itself need immediate medical attention. Foreign bodies that are not removed with gentle washing should be evaluated by an eye doctor.

Solar retinopathy: Evaluation by an eye doctor is necessary. This is one condition where there is little that can be done in the emergency department.

Photokeratitis (Welder's Burn):  The symptoms of pain, extreme light sensitivity, watering, and burning eyes usually do not appear until several hours after exposure.  Seeking the care of your eye doctor can help alleviate symptoms and prevent permanent damage from infection or scarring of the cornea.  it is vitally important that "eye numbing" drops NOT be used to decrease pain.  Use of these drops can increase the likelihood of infection and scarring.