Eye Infections and Emergencies

What is Eye Infections and Emergencies?

Eye emergencies can be caused by trauma, exposure to chemicals, burns, infections or an acute progression of a known or undiagnosed disease. They require immediate specialized treatment to reduce any damage to the anatomy of the eye and potential deterioration or loss of vision.

Some of the most common eye emergencies include:

  • Eye trauma: Any injury to the eye can potentially threaten vision. Such incidents range from a mild abrasion of the cornea to puncture wounds or a foreign object within the eye, through to severe trauma that causes extreme disruption tothe tissues of and around the eye.
  • Chemical exposure: This can be in the form of liquids, gases, fumes or aerosols. Regardless of the substance, immediate decontamination is required
  • Burns: Any burn on the eyes or face requires immediate attention. Burns can be caused by direct heat, scalding water, hot oil or other hot substances.
  • Retinal detachment: Although this can occur gradually, a sudden retinal detachment is an acute emergency. It occurs when the retina detaches from the inner surface of the eye, causing symptoms that include flashes of light or the sudden appearance of flaoters. You may also experience a shadow or a curtain that covers the outer part of the visual field of the eye towards the center
  • Acute glaucoma: It is when the pressure inside the eye suddenly increases, reducing blood flow and squeezing the optic nerve. Symptoms can be severe and include pain, redness, nausea and vomiting and visual disturbances.
  • Retinal artery or vein occlusion: It is caused when the blood vessels within the eye become blocked. Although it is often painless, it leads to sudden loss of vision.

Regardless of what the cause is, any sudden changes in vision, severe pain in the eyes, trauma or swelling require immediate care from an emergency ophthalmologist.

How do I know if I need an emergency ophthalmologist near me?

Any sudden, serious problems affecting one or both eyes should be considered an urgent need. Eye or eyelid injuries will require immediate attention, as will any sudden changes in your vision or acute onset of pain.

Symptoms that require urgent eye care include:

  • Trauma to the eye—burns, penetrating wounds, cuts, scratches, objects inside the eye
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Sudden changes in vision, such as partial or total loss of vision, blurred vision, double vision, intense photophobia (sensitivity to light), changes in central or peripheral vision
  • Severe pain
  • Severe swelling and/or reddening of the white area of the eye
  • Not being able to open one or both eyes

What happens during the emergency treatment of the eyes?

Any urgent eye care required will be determined by the cause behind the problem. Treatment of the wound depends on the extent of the injury. For example, a small foreign object that has caused a small abrasion or friction on the cornea should be removed. Most likely a bandage or patch will be applied to the eyes and you will need to wear it for a few days while the injury heals. 

Severe eyetrauma will need a variety of treatments, ranging from stitches to surgery, if the situation requires it. Treatments for burns and chemical exposure cases also depend on the severity of the injury. Eye emergencies, such as retinal detachment and acute glaucoma, often require surgery.  Following various diagnostic tests this may include one of a variety of treatments, including laser surgery. The key point is that an eyespecialistevaluates in a timely manner the exact cause of the emergency. Once this initial step is taken, appropriate emergency treatment can be instigated to prevent further damage to the function of the eye.

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