Optometry in Focus: Ocular Emergencies

Happy Monday, y’all!

One of my favorite COVID-era eye questions (thanks to 4 months of emergency care, triage, and telehealth calls to round out residency) is, “what constitutes an ocular emergency?”
(Which is closely related to, “do I really need to see a doctor for this?”)
With that in mind, today’s post is going to cover some common signs and symptoms that really do require a trip to your OD!

Flashes and Floaters

Flashes and floaters are most commonly associated with a posterior vitreous detachment (not an emergency).  However, they may also be an indication of a retinal tear or retinal detachment.  If you have a sudden increase in flashes and floaters, call your eye doctor up, so that they can take a look!

Loss of Vision

A sudden change in vision can also be a sign of significant ocular problems.  From sudden blurry vision (that lasts more than a few seconds and doesn’t get better with artificial tears, cleaning glasses, or changing contacts), to a complete loss of vision, these changes should not be taken lightly.  Don’t wait for a few days to see if your vision gets better, call your doctor up immediately!

Painful Red Eye

Unfortunately, not all red eyes are created equally – which is probably why they’ll end up in a series sooner or later.  When does a red eye need to be seen?  When it’s painful or associated with changes in vision. (Okay, and a few other times, but we’ll talk about those later…)

Foreign Body

Knowingly getting something in your eye (especially if you suspect/know that it may have penetrated your eye) also gives cause to call up your eye doctor.  They’re able to perform rinses, remove foreign bodies, and prescribe mediations (often antibiotics) to decrease the changes of an infection forming.
If you have other signs or symptoms not listed here, don’t be afraid of checking in with your provider! If you’re afraid there might be a problem, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
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