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Eye Emergencies Q&A with the Doctor

We had the opportunity to ask the Doctor a few questions about Eye Emergencies and here is what she said:

What is an eye infection?

An infection in your eye can show up in many different ways. A lot depends on which part of your eye has the problem. The main areas of the eye that can become infected are:

  • Eyelid
  • Cornea (clear front surface of the eye)
  • Conjunctiva (white part of the eye)

Symptoms may include: redness, mucus discharge, pain or discomfort, itchiness, foreign body sensation, sensitivity to light, burning, tender eyelids, watering, mattering in the morning
In order to determine the treatment regimen, one of our eye doctors will determine the location and the cause of the infection (viral, bacterial, or fungal). It is important to note that allergies, although not infectious, can often manifest in the eyelids/eyes and can present with similar symptoms. Treatment may be in the form of a cream or ointment, drops, or pills that are taken by mouth.

Can my child go to school with an eye infection?

Typically, you want to keep a child home for 24 hours after starting an eye drop or ointment. They should make sure they wash their hands frequently and cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing to prevent spread of the infection.

Are eye infections dangerous?

Most eye infections are self limiting and will either run their course or heal with the proper medical treatment. There are some eye infections, however, that can be devastating to the eye but most often occur after improper contact lens use, post trauma, or post surgical. Accurate diagnosis along with proper and timely treatment is required to prevent irreversible vision loss.

What should I do if I spill chemicals into my eye?

The first step is to always flush your eyes out with cool tap water for at least 15 minutes. This can be done in the shower, bathtub, or under the faucet. If you have access to an eye-rinse station, please use it. If any contact lenses do not come out during the flush, it is best to remove them. Be careful to not rub the eyes as this may cause further damage. After these steps are completed, seek emergency care by an eye care specialist to ensure no damage has been done. You may want to wear sunglasses to help reduce sensitivity to light.

What should I do if I get sand, metal, or wood in my eyes?

When sharp objects such as sand, metal, or wood get into the eye, they can lodge in the cornea or scratch the cornea. This will be painful and might make your eye water. If the cornea is scratched, it will feel like something is inside your eye and you can’t get it out. You should rinse the eyes with cool tap water, or use an eye-rinse station if possible, in an attempt to wash away the object. If you see an object stuck in the cornea, do not try to remove it as this may cause further damage. Try to refrain rubbing the eye as this may cause more damage as well. Seek emergency care by an eye care professional for proper removal and/or treatment. Often times, prescription eye drops or an ointment are required for treatment.

I am seeing spots or floating colors suddenly…

Floating colors are often a sign of an ocular migraine, or an aura. The aura perception differs widely across the population but ranges from “floating colors” to “lightning bolts” to “kaleidoscope-like” images. The phenomenon is caused by the same changes in the blood vessels and/or nerve excitability in the brain that cause regular migraines. It just takes place on the retina or in the area of the brain associated with your eyesight. Some people get the regular migraine after the aura, but the aura can come independently without the regular migraine as well. They usually last 15-45 minutes and then subside. Even though an ocular migraine does not affect the retina, it is important to seek medical attention to rule out any underlying pathology.

To learn more about Eye Emergencies click here.