Types of Eye Emergencies
Different types of eye emergencies need different treatments. At Acuity Vision Optometry Boutique, we’ve seen many eye injuries and know how to deal with them promptly and efficiently. However, if you find yourself in an emergency and we’re closed or need immediate medical attention, please call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room.
Typically, an eye emergency occurs when an accident causes cuts, scratches, burns, blunt trauma, or foreign objects to pierce the eye or eyelid. An emergency can also arise from a sudden infection or other medical conditions, like an acute attack from angle-closure glaucoma or rapid onset of flashes and floaters. Even minor injuries, like a fall, can lead to potential vision loss if not treated appropriately.
Getting hit in the face, head, or neck by blunt force is referred to as trauma. Trauma can be incredibly dangerous and may lead to bruising or swelling of the tissue around the eye. This type of accident can happen virtually anywhere, anytime, even to those who are extra cautious.
If you or a loved one has sustained an injury to the head or neck, you should seek medical attention even if the injury seems minor. Severe and lasting damage can occur due to pressure from swelling of the eyelid or ocular tissues. Often, internal swelling is not outwardly visible.
Chemical burns can occur when your eyes or skin come into contact with harmful chemicals used in cleaning supplies, garden products, and other substances. A chemical burn can happen at work or home, so it’s crucial to stay aware of your surroundings and the products you’re using.
Acid burns from vinegar, nail polish remover, battery acid, or glass polish can cause significant damage to the cornea.
Alkali burns are more dangerous than acid burns because alkali products are more difficult to wash out. They’re typically caused by fertilizers, oven cleaners, cement, or ammonia-based cleaners and can cause severe damage to both internal and external tissues in the eye.
If you’ve gotten a chemical in your eye, remove your contact lenses (if you’re wearing any) with clean, dry hands, and flush your eyes with clean water for at least 15 minutes. Then, seek immediate medical attention.
Getting something in your eye, like dust or dirt, can be uncomfortable but generally doesn’t constitute a trip to the doctor. If you have something small in your eye, try blinking several times to remove it. If it’s still bothering you, you can gently pull an eyelid away from the eye in the mirror to see if you can see the object. You can also try rinsing your eyes out with clean water.
If you still can’t remove the object and it’s causing you significant discomfort, give us a call. Even small things can damage the cornea. Plus, the sensation of something stuck in your eye, even when there’s nothing there, is a sign of a corneal abrasion.
Large or sharp foreign bodies, like glass or metal, can cause significant damage to your eye or eyelid. If you have something embedded in your eye, like debris thrown at high speeds by machinery, do not try to remove it yourself. Call 911 or head to your emergency room immediately.
While you’re waiting for medical assistance, try not to move your eyes. To help with this, bandage or cover both eyes with a dark cloth or paper cup. This will help prevent the injured eye from moving.