Eye Emergencies

Dr. Russel Lazarus, March 11, 2020

What is an eye emergency?

An eye infection or eye injury can be very painful and require emergency medical treatment.  Contact your doctor immediately if you experience trauma to your eye from a foreign body or chemical substance, or if your eye is red and oozing.

Symptoms of an eye emergency

  • Irritation or itchiness
  • Red or pink eyes
  • Stinging or burning
  • Foreign object stuck in your eye
  • Pain
  • Double Vision
  • Burns
  • Seeing flashes of light
  • New sensitivity to light
  • Sudden changes in pupil size
  • New “floaters” in your field of view
  • Dark shadows gliding across your vision
  • Sudden vision loss, in one or both eyes

If you need emergency eye care, immediately contact an eye doctor near you, who can provide emergency medical care.

SEE RELATED: When is Blurred Vision a Medical Emergency?

Find an eye doctor near you

Eye infection (red/pink Eye)

Eye infections can be caused by numerous reasons ranging from viral to bacterial, to contact with a harmful substance. People who wear contact lenses are more susceptible to eye infections. If you have an eye infection, it is crucial to remove your contacts until you visit your emergency eye doctor for an examination. 

Signs of an eye infection:

  • Discharge that is green, yellow, or bloody (white or cream colored discharge is normal)
  • Red eyes or eyelids
  • Feeling that something is stuck in your eye
  • Eye pain
  • A white or gray sore on your iris
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision, or other vision changes
  • Fever, with no other cause

What to do if a foreign object is stuck in your eye

Even the tiniest eyelash or grain of sand, can cause eye irritation and pain. However, there is no need to panic as most of the time, you can remove it safely at home. Just follow these steps to safely remove the object from your eye:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water
  2. Locate the object by looking in a mirror
  3. Squeeze your eyelids shut and blink to produce tears which will flush the object out. Do not rub your eyes, as it can make the problem worse.
  4. If the object is behind the upper eyelid: pull your upper lid gently over your lower eyelid, then look upward to push the object off the upper lid.
  5. If the object is under the lower lid or in the corner of your eye, use a damp soft cloth or cotton swab to gently remove it.
  6. Use a cup of lukewarm water to flush the object out by placing your eye over the cup with your lids open, and slowly pour lukewarm water into your eye.

Remember – Eyes are extremely delicate. If you are unable to remove the object from your eye, stay calm and contact your eye doctor for emergency assistance.

If you think that the foreign substance cut into your eye surface, it is crucial to seek emergency eye care immediately to prevent putting your vision at risk.

LEARN MORE:  Guide to Eye Exams

If you need emergency eye care, immediately contact an eye doctor near you, who can provide emergency eye care.