Urgent Eye Care
When you call Penobscot Eye Care with an urgent eye care issue, one of our trained professional staff will triage your problem. If the issue needs immediate care, we will do everything possible to have you examined by one of our optometrists. If there are no optometrists on staff, we will refer you to the ophthalmologist on call. We have listed a few frequent urgent eye care issues we deal with below.
Flashes & Floaters
You may sometimes see specks or clouds moving in your field of vision. These are called floaters. You can often see them when looking at a plain background, like a blank wall or blue sky. Floaters are tiny clumps of cells or material inside the vitreous, the clear, gel-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye. Symptoms of vitreous floaters include seeing specks or clouds moving in your field of vision or seeing dots, circles, lines, or “cobwebs.”
Symptoms of flashes include seeing flashes of light or seeing “stars.” If the vitreous gel shrinks and pulls away from the eye’s wall, the retina can tear. This sometimes causes bleeding inside the eye that may appear as new floaters. A torn retina is always a serious problem since it can lead to retinal detachment. You should see your eye doctor as soon as possible if you suddenly see an increase in the size and number of floaters, or you suddenly see flashes of light.
Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis
Pink eye symptoms vary by type of conjunctivitis. Your symptoms may be a clue to the kind of conjunctivitis you have. If you have a bacterial infection causing your pink eye, you will usually have very red eyes. You may find crusting on your eyelids that can make them stick together as well as a heavy, pus-like discharge from your eyes that may be greenish at times. This infection may spread to both eyes.
A very red, swollen eye, crusty eyelids, and more watery discharge are likely with viral conjunctivitis. This discharge can also have strands of mucus or white, ropy strands. While many cases of viral pink eye infect only one eye, this infection can also spread to the other eye.
If allergies are causing your conjunctivitis, it will often look similar to viral conjunctivitis. Your eyes will be red and tearing. However, they will also be itchy. You may likely have a stuffy, runny, or itchy nose as well.
What to Do if You Get Something in Your Eye
When you get something in your eye, you may feel an impulse to rub furiously until the dust or dirt is gone. Don’t. Rubbing the eyelid can drag foreign bodies across the cornea, causing increased irritation and possibly scratching the cornea.
The cornea, the transparent portion of the eye covering the iris and pupil, has many nerve endings and is very sensitive. Scratching the cornea can cause excruciating pain, as many contact lens wearers know. Also, vigorous rubbing may imbed foreign particles in the cornea or sclera, the white portion of the eyeball. This may result in further complications.
If a foreign body is embedded in the sclera or cornea, you should not try to remove it. A scratched cornea or a foreign body are conditions that need to be treated by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. Attempts to remove foreign bodies without proper equipment and expertise are seldom effective and often worsen the issue.
Several things you should know if you get something in your eye:
- If the material is dirt or a dust particle, try blinking your eyes quickly. This may dislodge the object.
- Have a friend examine your eye to locate the material and determine if it can be easily removed.
- Rinse the eye with artificial tears or normal saline fluid.
- Pull the upper lid down and out over the lower lid and let it slide back. This may be enough to dislodge the object.
If none of these approaches works and the object remains lodged in your eye, you may need to seek medical attention. When a doctor removes an object from the eye, an anesthetic is given, and a probe is used to dislodge the material. If a scratch is left after the object is removed, the doctor might put a patch on the eye until it heals.
If you get chemicals in your eye, immediately rinse the eye with fresh water. Irrigation may be sufficient to remove a mild irritant from the eye. But if a corrosive chemical, such as acid, or a base, such as lye, gets into the eye, you will need medical attention even after you flush the eye thoroughly with water. If your vision is blurred or you feel pain after removing a chemical, or any other object, from your eye, see your doctor for urgent eye care.
Treat all eye injuries as potential emergencies, and never hesitate to contact or see an eye doctor immediately. Don’t take risks with your eyesight. Remember, you have only one pair of eyes.
Common Causes of Eye Injuries
According to Prevent Blindness America (PBA), an estimated 2.4 million eye injuries occur in the United States each year. Nearly 1 million Americans have lost some degree of eyesight from an eye injury. Experts say wearing safety glasses and taking other common-sense precautions can prevent or reduce the severity of more than 90% of these eye injuries. Penobscot Eye Care has a large stock of recommended safety eyewear frames and lenses.