What Is Considered A True Eye Emergency? - SightMD Skip to main content

February 26, 2022

By: Jeffrey Martin, MD

What Is Considered A True Eye Emergency?

Woman smiling and pointing at her brown eyes

Even though Ophthalmologists see dozens of “emergencies” a day in the office, and we are happy to see them, few of them are true emergencies. An eye emergency is defined as a condition requiring prompt medical attention due to a sudden change in ocular health or vision.

When it comes to essential organs like your eyes, it’s especially crucial to determine when it’s okay to ignore the problem and when it’s a situation warranting an urgent visit to your eye doctor. How prompt you are in this case will be the difference between continued vision and permanent visual impairment.

What is Considered an Eye Emergency?

Any sudden onset of symptoms or obvious eye trauma that affects vision is an eye emergency. This can range from severe eye pain or vision loss to chemical exposure. Contact us without delay if you experience any of the following:

  • Eye pain
  • Bleeding of the eye
  • Blood in the white of the eye
  • Swollen or bulging eye
  • Vision loss
  • Double vision
  • New or a sudden increase in eye flashes or floaters
  • Pupils that are not the same size
  • Severe photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Being hit in the eye
  • Bruising around the eye
  • Eye discharge
  • Suspected eye infection
  • Severe burning, stinging, itching eyes
  • Scratched or cut eye or eyelid
  • Split contact lenses in the eye
  • Foreign object stuck in the eye

If you’re uncertain whether or not your condition is an emergency, contact Eye Trends and let us know what’s going on.

We Can Treat Your Eye Emergencies

Our highly trained staff and capable staff is experienced in treating a wide range of eye emergencies and other eye conditions. Our professional team offers personalized care and individual attention to all of our patients. We use the latest technology to thoroughly examine and evaluate eye injuries, infections, and other eye emergencies.

Here are some of the problems affecting your visual system that are considered a true eye emergency:

Globe Rupture

This generally involves the integrity of the cornea or the sclera being compromised. Your doctor should always consider a ruptured globe if there’s an eye trauma. Globe rupture can be due to accidents like being poked in the eye by a sharp object. It can also occur when you’re hit directly on your eye with a fist or a blunt object, such as a baseball bat. Without prompt and appropriate treatment, the injury may cause severe infection, which could lead to blindness.

Orbital Cellulitis

This is an uncommon eye condition that’s also considered an actual emergency. It’s an infection characterized by a breach in the eye’s outer portion, thus affecting the tissues of the eye socket. Without urgent medical attention, the disease will endanger not only your sight but also your life. There are several potential causes of orbital cellulitis. These include eye trauma, system-wide infections, or infection of the skull or sinuses.

Retinal Detachment

This is a severe type of ocular emergency that occurs when the retina separates and pulls away from its normal position. It can happen due to eye injury, aging, extreme nearsightedness, or particular eye disorders. When the retina is out of place, it will not be able to process incoming light properly. Without immediate medical attention, retinal detachment can result in permanent vision loss.

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma

This type of glaucoma is also an emergency because it can cause permanent vision loss if not treated immediately. This condition occurs when the pressure inside the eye becomes too high very fast. The pressure buildup can damage the optic nerve and affect the vision. For patients with this type of glaucoma, the symptoms often manifest out of the blue. The signs include eye redness, sudden severe eye pain, and blurred vision, among others.

Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO)

This happens when there’s blockage of one of the blood vessels in the retina. The obstruction can be due to a cholesterol deposit or blood clot in one of the artery branches. CRAO can cause the patient to lose their eyesight. It usually occurs all of a sudden and without pain. It’s a serious condition because if the blood clot clears out, it can move to the brain and cause a stroke.

There are many other non-emergent, “emergencies.” that we see such as conjunctivitis, corneal abrasions, foreign bodies, chalazia, just to name a few. These can become quite emergent as well but the above five are the most severe and time-dependent.

Contact SightMD today to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to discuss your vision health at one of our convenient locations!