You have one set of eyes, and your vision is critical to your ability to comfortably function through daily life. While your eyes are well protected by their placement, it’s still possible to experience damage from a range of sources.
While virtually everyone knows the feeling of having something in their eye, it can happen in degrees, from minor to medical emergency. When is that line crossed? Are some eye conditions more urgent than others?
At IC Laser Eye Care, we’re concerned with the overall quality of your vision. With this in mind, we’ve prepared this primer about the four eye emergencies you need to know about. It will help you get the urgent care you require as soon as you can. Knowing this information can help you preserve your eyesight in a crisis.
4 categories of eye emergencies
The types of events that constitute eye emergencies fall into four primary categories. We discuss each category and some of the specific emergencies that fall under each.
Perhaps the most common blunt trauma injury affecting the eye results in a black eye, a bruise that forms after an impact injury. The eye turns black and blue, moving toward green and yellow as blood gets absorbed by your body. Swollen tissue around the eye is common, and, in severe cases, this swelling can cause damage to the eyeball.
Penetrating trauma is usually a much more serious emergency. Caused by assaults with weapons like knives and guns, penetrating injuries can also result from certain power tools or sharp objects like nails.
Debris, dust, or sand can cause minor irritation that your tears flush away. However, larger particles can cause eye emergencies. These particles embed in the cornea, the clear tissue covering your eyeball. When you have persistent pain, eye redness, and light sensitivity, you have a condition that should be treated as an emergency. If a foreign object injures your eyelid, you may consider the eye injured as well.
Although often a result of workplace incidents, chemicals splashing into your eyes can happen at home too, with common cleaning products. It’s not always a splash, either. Airborne chemicals in the form of aerosol sprays and strong fumes can sometimes be enough to create an eye emergency. Acids can cause cloudiness on the cornea, though it often clears up. Alkaline splashes can permanently damage the cornea. Because it’s not always clear what type of chemical you’ve been splashed with, treat all chemical incidents as eye emergencies.
Some eye emergencies arise because of conditions or diseases of the eye. Acute angle-closure glaucoma comes on suddenly and can represent a risk to your eyesight. You may develop a severe headache or eye pain that’s accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Your vision may be blurry, you may see halos around lights, and your eyes could be red.
Retinal detachments often present as a curtain-like effect at the side of or across your entire field of vision. This happens as the retina pulls away from the rear wall of your eye. Both acute angle glaucoma and detached retina are eye emergencies that could result in blindness without prompt treatment.
Contact IC Laser Eye Care immediately whenever you have an eye emergency or proceed to the nearest hospital emergency facility if your event occurs outside office hours. Follow up with us when your eye emergency is under control. You can reach the nearest of our three locations — in Philadelphia and Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and Hamilton, New Jersey — by phone or online. Don’t delay when it comes to your vision. Book your visit now.