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An eye emergency occurs any time you have a foreign object or chemicals in your eye, or when an injury or burn affects your eye area.
Remember, you should seek medical attention if you ever experience swelling, redness, or pain in your eyes. Without proper treatment, eye damage can lead to partial loss of vision or even permanent blindness.
Eye emergencies cover a range of incidents and conditions, each with their own distinct symptoms.
You should contact your doctor if it feels like you have something in your eye, or if you experience any of the following symptoms:
If there’s an injury to your eye, or if you have sudden vision loss, swelling, bleeding, or pain in your eye, visit an emergency room or urgent care center.
Serious complications can occur from an eye injury. You shouldn’t attempt to treat yourself. Although you may be tempted, be sure not to:
If you wear contact lenses, don’t take them out if you think you’ve suffered an eye injury. Attempting to remove your contacts can make your injury worse.
The only exceptions to this rule are in situations where you have a chemical injury and your lenses didn’t flush out with water, or where you cannot receive immediate medical help.
The best thing you can do in an eye emergency is to get to your doctor as soon as possible.
Chemical burns result when cleaning products, garden chemicals, or industrial chemicals get into your eyes. You can also suffer burns in your eye from aerosols and fumes.
If you get acid in your eye, early treatment generally results in a good prognosis. However, alkaline products like drain cleaners, sodium hydroxide, lye, or lime can permanently damage your cornea.
If you get chemicals in your eye, you should take the following steps:
If something gets in your eye, it can cause eye damage or a loss of vision. Even something as small as sand or dust can cause irritation.
Take the following steps if you have something small in your eye or eyelid:
Glass, metal, or objects that enter your eye at high speed can cause serious damage. If something is stuck in your eye, leave it where it is.
Do not touch it, do not apply pressure, and do not attempt to remove it.
This is a medical emergency and you should seek help immediately. Try to move your eye as little as possible while you wait for medical care. If the object is small and you’re with another person, it may help to cover both eyes with a clean piece of cloth. This will reduce your eye movement until your doctor examines you.
If you have a cut or scratch to your eyeball or eyelid, you need urgent medical care. You may apply a loose bandage while you wait for medical treatment, but be careful not to apply pressure.
You usually get a black eye when something hits your eye or the area surrounding it. Bleeding under the skin causes the discoloration associated with a black eye.
Typically, a black eye will appear as black and blue and then turn purple, green, and yellow over the next few days. Your eye should return to normal coloring within a week or two. Black eyes are sometimes accompanied by swelling.
A blow to the eye can potentially damage the inside of the eye so it’s a good idea to see your eye doctor if you have a black eye.
A black eye can also be caused by a skull fracture. If your black eye is accompanied by other symptoms, you should seek medical care.
Eye injuries can happen anywhere, including at home, work, athletic events, or on the playground. Accidents can happen during high-risk activities, but also in places where you least expect them.
There are things you can do to decrease your risk of eye injuries, including:
To decrease your chances of developing permanent eye damage, you should always see an eye doctor after you experience an eye injury.
Written by: Ann Pietrangeloon: Nov 22, 2017
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