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Eye emergencies are high-stress moments for anyone, regardless of whether you’re the one in need of immediate eye care. But, in the panic of the moment, it’s sometimes very difficult to figure out what’s really “an emergency” and what can wait until later.

In spite of confusion, it’s important to know what merits a trip to a hospital emergency room. This is especially true with the current public health protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s Considered Emergency Eye Care?

Eye emergencies are any abrupt problems with the eye or changes in vision. These sudden problems or changes to ocular or visual health could arise with or without an easily identifiable cause.

Events like eye trauma or chemical injury are easy examples of obvious cause. Sudden loss of vision, red eye, or flashing lights in your visual field have no easily identifiable cause. Vision deterioration in this second group won’t always be the result of something wrong with your eyes.

Factors like these could point to larger physiological issues. For reasons like these, you should go to the emergency room.

Emergencies for Eye Doctors

Optometrists are not usually the first line of defense for urgent care related to eye emergencies. Our offices are equipped to examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye, which are a little “slower moving” than a sudden eye injury.

Additionally, eye care emergencies may have complications that might require other medical specialists unrelated to examining the condition of your eyes, like surgeons or neurologists. To accelerate the first aid process, a visit to the hospital E.R. is the simplest answer to minimize the chance of long-term injury to your eye or vision.

What Should I Go to the ER For?

  • Eye burns from chemical exposure
  • Retinal detachment from trauma
  • Foreign object stuck in eye
  • Vision loss or double vision
  • Scratches on cornea from dirt, metal or wood shavings, or contact lenses
  • Sudden fluid discharge from eye (blood, mucus)
  • Eye bulging from socket
  • Pink eye discharge (clear/watery fluid, yellow/green fluid, red eyes)
  • Severe light sensitivity

Sudden, acute pain is very different from severe discomfort. It’s important to identify either with yourself or your loved one what requires an unavoidable trip to the emergency room.

Infections like pink eye can be either viral or bacterial, with varying levels of transmission. Although an optometrist can prescribe eye drops to treat the  conjunctivitis, waiting on an appointment means possibly spreading it to others.

Optometrist Emergency Care

If you do visit us for an emergency visit, the Custom Eyes team’s first goal will be to eliminate or mitigate any immediate threat to your eye or your vision. As we administer first aid on your eye, we’ll also try to treat the acute pain or injury, if that’s possible.

If we’re able to completely resolve the immediate threat of your eye emergency situation, we’ll refer you to other specialists or set up an appointment to follow up on the healing process.