First Steps After an Eye Emergency

Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. And when they do, it’s good to be prepared.

Eye injuries take a variety of forms — whether the surface of your eye is scratched by a foreign object or you’ve noticed sudden vision changes — and it’s not always easy to recognize what’s considered an eye emergency.

At Pacific Eye, our ophthalmology and optometry team is here to help you recognize when your eye health and your vision could be at risk. Follow these steps and prepare yourself so you know what to do in the event of an eye emergency.

1. Recognize eye emergencies

Almost everyone experiences eye discomfort from time to time. But it’s not always easy to recognize when your injury could be a medical emergency. The first step in caring for your eyes is learning to recognize an emergency situation.

Eye injury

Traumatic injuries and accidents can cause visible damage to your eyes. Whether it’s a speck of dirt or sand, a scratch on your cornea, or something more serious, the symptoms of eye injuries may include:

Eye pain

If you suffer an eye injury, pain inside the eye is common. But signs of pain may not be limited to your eye itself. Learn to recognize other types of pain, including:

Vision changes

Not all eye emergencies begin with an injury, and they don’t always cause pain. Sudden changes in your vision could indicate a serious condition, like retinal detachment, that necessitates emergency care.

Vision changes that could indicate an eye emergency include:

Any of these symptoms could indicate an eye emergency, and it’s important to seek professional medical care as soon as possible.  

2. Practice proper eye first aid

If you notice signs or symptoms of an eye emergency, knowing how to respond can preserve your eye health and your vision. 

Chemical burns and small foreign objects

Chemical burns and small objects that irritate eyes may be flushed out with saline or water. If you suffer a chemical burn, remove contact lenses (if you’re wearing them) and flush your eye with a sterile saline solution or water for about 15 minutes.

Large foreign objects, cuts, and punctures

Large foreign objects, such as visible pieces of wood or glass, as well as injuries that cut or puncture your eyelid or eye should not be flushed. Do not try to remove the object — instead, cover the eye with a hard shield and seek immediate medical care.

No matter what type of injury you’ve suffered, be sure to visit the nearest emergency room or contact your eye doctor for prompt medical care as soon as possible.

3. Seek emergency medical care

If you or a loved one suffers an eye injury, don’t wait to seek medical care. Emergency departments are equipped to handle common eye injuries, and getting prompt care could save your eye and your vision.

Our team at Pacific Eye is here for you too. We serve patients at convenient locations across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, so don’t hesitate to call the Pacific Eye location nearest you if you need prompt eye care.

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