It can be easy to take your vision for granted, especially if you’ve never had an eye problem before. However, eye emergencies can happen suddenly and damage your eye health and vision. Eye emergencies can happen from everyday mishaps like a fall, so it’s important to know when to visit your optometrist.
Common Eye Emergencies
When people think of eye emergencies, many go to the extreme, such as losing an eye or a serious cut. However, lots of everyday mishaps can lead to eye injuries. Taking a hit to the eye, getting sand in your eye, or even a small scratch can put your eye health at risk.
Common eye emergencies include:
- Red eyes
- Foreign objects in the eye
- Lump on the eye
- Black eyes
- Chemicals in the eye
- Cuts or scratches
Red eyes can be a symptom of many eye problems, from dry eyes to glaucoma. Typically, red eyes are nothing to worry about—they often go away with time or when your irritation subsides. However, in some cases, red eyes can be a sign of something more serious.
Keep an eye on any redness and visit your eye doctor if it lasts more than a week. Visit your optometrist for immediate medical attention if:
- You have a headache and blurry vision with your red eyes
- You feel nauseous or vomit alongside your red eyes
- You see white rings around nearby lights
- Your eyes are red after an injury
Small Foreign Objects in the Eye
A foreign object in your eye is anything that isn’t supposed to be there, big or small. Many people think of large objects and serious injuries, but small irritants can significantly affect your eye health.
Dust, sand, dirt, or other small objects can become stuck in your eye, causing potential damage. If you have something stuck in your eye, follow these steps to remove the irritant:
- Blink to see if you can clear your eyes
- Wash your hands, then look into a mirror to find the irritant
- Use eye drops to wash away the irritant
- If the object is stuck, flush your eyes with water
- If the foreign object stays, visit your eye doctor right away for treatment
Lump on Eye
Lumps and bumps can seem concerning, especially near your eye. The good news is that these bumps typically occur due to irritation. Allergic reactions, eyelashes in your eye, sun exposure, sand in the eye, and leaving eye makeup on for too long can irritate your eye, leading to a lump.
Common lumps near your eye include:
- Pinguecula: White or yellowish bumps caused by dry eyes or UV rays
- Pterygia: A thick bump near your cornea caused by UV exposure or dry eyes
- Chalazia and styes: Bumps caused by inflammation, occurring when glands become blocked or an infection develops
- Scratched cornea: A bump can develop due to inflammation when you scratch your cornea
- Eye cancer: Eye cancer is rare, but it can sometimes cause a bump on the eye
Black eyes are a common result of a hit to your face, whether you fell, got injured in sports, or took a punch. They’re usually not a problem, but sometimes black eyes can mean you need to go to your eye doctor.
You should visit a medical professional if you have a black eye alongside:
- Vision loss
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory lapses
- Consistent vomiting
Chemicals in the Eye
Whether you’re cleaning your bathroom or working, chemicals have the potential to get into your eye. If this happens, your eyes are at risk of significant damage.
The faster you address chemical exposure to your eyes, the less chance of complications. Take swift action if you get chemicals in your eyes by:
- Washing your hands to remove any chemical residue
- Turning your head to keep the injured eye facing down
- Holding your eyelid open to flush it with clean, cold water for at least 15 minutes
- Removing your contacts if you’re wearing any
- Getting to your eye doctor or an emergency room as soon as possible for an assessment
Cuts or Scratches
No matter the size, a cut or scratch is a reason to visit your eye doctor. They can assess the damage to your eye and provide emergency care.
Protect Your Eye Health
Eye emergencies can happen when you least expect them, but you can protect your vision with help from your eye doctor. Your vision is precious, so don’t assume a problem will sort itself out. Don’t leave your eye health up to chance—visit your eye doctor for emergency care when necessary.
Contact Whitby Family Eye Care if you experience an eye emergency.