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Do you need to go to the emergency room? How to tell if it’s an urgent vision problem.

Monday, December 7, 2015 @ 05:12 PM
Author: Amit Mathur


We’re always told to not go to the hospital emergency unless it’s a serious emergency. And that’s fair enough since they’re often short-staffed and non-emergencies tend to clog up their efficiencies. However, sometimes it is an emergency and it’s important to go see a doctor immediately before your situation progresses or worsens. But what about when it involves your eyes? Do you know the difference between a vision-related emergency or not? If you do have a vision emergency and you don’t go, this could potentially be the difference between becoming blind or saving your vision. I think the choice is simple.

Foreign Objects

Like most other parts of your body, the eyes can take care of minor things on their own. If you have an eyelash for instance, your eye can water or tear until the eyelash comes out. If you have a small particle of dirt that is irritating your eyes, you’ll start to blink until it is pushed out. However if you have something more serious, your eye will need some assistance before damage is done. It is possible to sometimes get pieces of glass stuck in your eye for instance. Like if you drop a glass on the floor, pieces will fly all over the place. And this will be dangerous if a piece is stuck in your eye. So if something larger does get caught in there, be sure to cover both your eyes with a clean cloth or bandage so that your eyes stop moving and push the object around. Never try to remove a large object on your own as you might cause more problems.

Scratches & Cuts

If you have a scratch or a cut in the eye or on the eyeball, this could be harmful. There is a lot of fluid and tissue surrounding the eyes that are quite sensitive and can easily be damaged long term if not properly treated. Any harm to these parts can cause long-term damage to your vision and potentially even lead to blindness. If you do get a cut or scratch, you should apply a cold compress to the area (very gently!) in order to help reduce any swelling that may occur. And contrary to other parts of your body, if you are bleeding, DON’T apply any pressure as this might cause more damage. Instead, take yourself directly to the nearest emergency room and have it properly taken care of.


Getting any sort of chemical in the eyes (or on your body) is extremely dangerous. And we all encounter chemicals on a daily basis: think about your household cleaning products, lawn fertilizers, paints, aerosols like Febreeze and other air fresheners, or kitchen cleaners, etc. If any of these items (or others) got into your eye, it could cause very serious problems, like chemical burns. If you do get any type of chemical in your eye, here’s what you should do:

  • Drop your head and turn to the side of the eye that has the chemicals, so that its facing down and away from your body.

  • If you are wearing contacts, remove them if you can.

  • Open your eyelid and keep it open with your fingers.

  • Try to flush out your eye with cool or cold water (from the sink is OK) for approximately 15 minutes.

  • Contact 911 or seek medical assistance right away.

Other Problems

Of course, these aren’t the only potentially serious problems you might have with your eyes. Be sure to go to the hospital if your eyes become acutely painful, are very red, if there is bleeding or if your pain (in the eyes) is accompanied by nausea or a headache. When in doubt, contact your optometrist or optician for more information or recommendations.

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