Got a Nerf dart in your eye? Woke up with screaming red eyes? Sharp pain in the eye or sudden sensitivity to light? Life happens and sometimes it can be hard to know whether a condition will pass by itself or whether it might require more immediate medical eye care.

Studies have shown that going to an experienced eye care professional for an eye emergency is generally the best and fastest way to get the vision saving care you need. Our eye health centers offer 24/7 on call services and are equipped with the leading-edge diagnostic and treatment technology eye emergencies often require. Our Medical Optometrists are trained to deal with these emergencies and often support the local urgent cares and emergency rooms to provide specialized care for patients with emergency needs.

If you have any of the following symptoms, contact MOA or another medical professional right away to determine next steps:

  • Sudden vision loss
  • Significant changes to vision
  • Abrupt increase in floaters
  • Flashes of light
  • Extremely red or bloodshot eyes
  • Stringy, sticky or yellowish discharge
  • Pain or excessive itching
  • Swelling

Some of the most common questions we get about emergency eye conditions include:

What do I do if I accidentally get chemical in my eye?

Because eyes are made of delicate tissues, any chemical contact (household cleaning products, etc.) can cause significant damage. If your eyes do come into contact with chemicals, it’s essential to flush them immediately with cool, clean water for at least 15 minutes to wash out as much chemical residue as possible.

Is it pink eye or something else?
Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is a condition that can cause redness and swelling of the eye, increased tear production, itching/irritation, discharge and crusting of eyelids/eyelashes. As some forms of conjunctivitis are highly contagious, it’s important to limit contact with others and refrain from rubbing your eyes. 

What about foreign bodies in the eye?
Everyone has experienced the uncomfortable sensation of having something stuck in their eye – such as an eyelash, a small bug or sand. In some cases, the foreign body can be flushed out with cool water. If the object is still stuck and causing discomfort, seeking emergency treatment is the best course of action to avoid damage to the eye.

What types of eye emergencies require urgent care?
Eye injuries resulting from everyday activities including sports, yard work and home improvement projects are common, but must be taken seriously. Really any situation involving eye pain or sudden loss of vision should be considered urgent until proven otherwise

Scratched corneas or damage to the sclera or white part of your eye can be painful and leave lasting damage. Even something as seemingly harmless as a toy Nerf gun can cause significant eye damage!

What causes a stye?
A stye is a common bacterial infection that causes a painful, red bump on the upper or lower eyelid. While some styes heal on their own, others require a doctor’s attention. 

None of the symptoms or conditions described above are pleasant to deal with, but it might be good to know that they are quite common. Of course, the best way to avoid the need for emergency eye care is to taking preventative measures, including:

  • Always wear eye protection when taking part in activities that could injure your eye:  gardening, woodworking, using chemical products or playing with Nerf guns or other projectile-based toys.
  • Maintain good facial hygiene with a careful focus on daily cleaning of the delicate skin around the eyes.
  • Stay proactive with your eye health and seek annual eye care to track symptoms and stay ahead of the game!

Learn more about the emergency eye care services we offer in our eye health centers in Newtown Square, PA, Horsham, PA, Plymouth Meeting, PA, and Shrewsbury, PA.

Medical Optometry America is proud to be a trusted resource for the patients and communities we serve and offers on call doctors 24/7. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have emergency eye care needs.