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A Visit to the Emergency Room or Your Optometrist?

Eye Care Emergencies To Take Directly to the Optometry Office ASAP

When a health crisis occurs, it is common to consider a visit to the nearest hospital emergency room for care. However, when the emergency is related to your eyes, consider a trip to your optometrist’s office as the first stop.

Recent research has shown that treating eye emergencies at eye doctors’ offices can potentially divert more than 1 million patients away from ERs each year. While doing so eases the burden on hospitals and their staff and helps them conserve resources, it also ensures that you get the most prompt treatment and care.

New or existing patient? We are here to help! Here are some of the several circumstances where you can keep eye emergencies out of hospital emergency rooms.

Foreign Body Removal

With fallen leaves blowing in the wind and chopped wood burning in backyard bonfire pits, autumn carries with it several instances that a foreign body can end up embedded in an eye.

The sharp pain, watery eyes and frightening blurred vision from a foreign body can coax a run to the bathroom for a quick self-removal attempt or an anxious run to the nearest emergency room. Try and keep this in mind: the eye is a fragile organ. Any self-pursuits of removal or a long wait in an ER can lead to an unfavorable outcome.

Take a deep breath, give us a quick call, and let our team know you are on your way so we can prepare to address your needs right upon your arrival!

Lost/Broken Contacts

After wearing contacts for years, they no longer feel like foreign objects until… they tear or get lost in the eyelid. Chances are you did not realize the contact was torn until it was in your eye. Torn lenses are less likely to stay centered and the jagged edge can scratch the front surface of your eye.

During allergy seasons, your eyes can get extremely itchy. Rubbing your eye can cause contacts to fold, dislodge from the cornea and get stuck under your upper eyelid.

Don’t panic! You can remove ripped contact lenses following your usual process. Even lost, folded lenses can often be found by adding contact lens solution to your eye, closing your eye, and massaging your eyelid until the lens repositions itself.

If these attempts fail or are successful but followed by discomfort, call or visit your eye doctor for assistance.

Chemical Flushing

Some chemicals are more toxic than others, but all chemicals should be considered dangerous if they encounter your eye. Certain chemicals can cause damage to the cornea and lead to vision loss.

Cleaning your bathroom mirrors, providing maintenance to your vehicle, or starting a manicure with nail polish remover? These are common situations where an acid can accidentally make its way into your eye, causing them to sting and burn.

If you are wearing contacts, remove them immediately. Preferably flush your eyes with saline if you have it on hand or with room temperature water. Seek urgent medical care from your trusted O.D.

Red & Burning Eyes

While chemical exposure can lead to red and burning eyes, this eye experience can be linked to several other serious issues. Bacteria, mites, allergens, skin diseases and autoimmune diseases can lead to similar reactions. You may not know you have any of these until you are examined by an optometrist.

Don’t try to give red and burning eyes time to fall by the wayside. Proper diagnosis by your O.D. is essential to determine the best treatment.

Discharge From the Eye

Pink eye is a misguided diagnosis. It is often confused with other conjunctivitis conditions. If taken directly to an emergency room, patients are usually prescribed a simple antibiotic to cure what is easily assumed based on the symptoms.

Correct diagnosis of red eyes accompanied by discharge are best evaluated by an eye doctor as quickly as possible since some of the causes can be sight-threatening.

Flashes and Floaters

You may consider floating spots and flashing lights a symptom of constantly staring at a computer screen or having a painful migraine. While these reasons can be valid, flashes and floaters must be addressed quickly as they could be an indication of a retinal defect such as retinal detachment, or a stroke. These can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.

Step away from the computer screen, give us a call and explain what is obstructing your vision. This will help us determine if an immediate evaluation by one of our trusted vision-care specialists should be the next move on your to-do list.

Sudden Vision Changes

Sitting in the car and notice you can’t see out of one eye? Or does your vision seem much worse than it was yesterday while you’re reading your newest novel? These sudden vision changes can be ominous signs. The most likely reasons are macular degeneration, elevated eye pressure, or optic nerve disease.

If you or a loved one experiences sudden vision changes, call our Timonium office at 410-204-2530. A prompt diagnosis by your optometrist is essential to restore vision to normal.

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These are just some examples of situations that are best treated by your trusted O.D. rather than an ER physician. Take anything involving your eye health into consideration and do not hesitate to contact us for prompt and precise eye care.  

See Under the Sea & in the Swimming Pool Too

Wear goggles for clear & healthy underwater vision

You don’t swim naked at a public beach or swimming pool, and you shouldn’t swim with naked eyes either! At the beach, it’s hard to know if ocean water is really clean and not polluted, and the sand and salt content can make your eyes sting. If you prefer swimming in a pool, remember that while pool water can be clean, that’s only because it’s packed with chlorine, which can seriously irritate your eyes, stripping away your lubricating film and causing redness, pain, and blurry vision.

Goggles are the ideal solution for protecting your delicate eyes against the harshness of water. Also, due to advanced materials and modern engineering of the lenses in swim goggles, they provide crisper underwater vision than ever before! Your knowledgeable Timonium eye doctor explains about the benefits and features of goggles:

Prescription goggles

If you normally need eyeglasses or contacts to see above water, our Timonium optometrist strongly recommends buying a pair of prescription goggles for underwater vision. For you to see, light rays reflect off an object, enter your eyes, and are focused on your retina clearly. However, light rays don’t function the same way when they are in water. That’s why the floor of a swimming pool appears higher up than it really is. In general, goggles correct this problem by creating an air-filled gap around your eyes. But this doesn’t give sharp sight to swimmers who need vision correction. If you have nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, you’ll need prescription goggles to see.

Wearing contact lenses and standard goggles

A lot of people are in the habit of wearing standard goggles over their contact lenses, instead of purchasing a pair of prescription goggles. What’s the problem with this? Actually, water is the problem.

Water in all bodies – lakes, pools, oceans, and hot tubs – is a natural breeding ground for bacteria and microorganisms. While your body and your eyes have a built-in defense system to protect against these menacing microbes, contact lenses interfere with your eye’s protection. Consequently, swimming with contact lenses increases your risk of getting an eye infection.

Acanthamoeba keratitis is an extremely hazardous eye infection caused by amoeba being trapped between your contact lens and your cornea. Sometimes, amoeba start to live in your eye, leading to corneal ulcers and permanent vision loss. This type of infection only happens to people who wear contact lenses, which underscores our Timonium eye doctor’s warning against swimming with contacts!

Now, we also realize that many people will insist on wearing contact lenses at the beach or pool – despite all of our warnings. If you’re one of those people, here are some tips to help you minimize the danger to your eye health:

  • Wear daily disposable contacts for swimming, since you throw them out after a single use. Remove them immediately after you come out of the water, rinse your eyes with artificial tears and replace your lenses with a new, clean pair.
  • Even if you’re didn’t fully dip into the water, if any drops fall into your eyes, remove your contacts immediately and throw them out, or disinfect them if you aren’t wearing disposables.
  • Never open your eyes underwater
  • Never go swimming and then doze off on the shore or poolside with your lenses still in your eyes

Top features for goggles – recommended by our Timonium optometrist

  • Prescription lenses, if you generally need eyewear with vision correction
  • Shatterproof lenses
  • Anti-fog treatment
  • Leak-free lenses that seal comfortably around your eyes
  • Built-in UV protection
  • Surfers should wear polarized lenses to protect against reflected glare, which can be very intense on the water
  • Competitive swimmers and divers should choose frames with a low profile
  • Recreational lap swimmers do best with larger lenses (they give wider peripheral vision), and more padded frames

More questions about swimming and vision? Ask our Timonium eye doctor!

Before you dive into the blue, sparkling waters at the beach or swimming pool, consult with an expert optometrist near you. We’ll help you find the safest way to have sharp underwater vision and a fabulous look! If you do experience irritated eyes, strange discharge, pain, sensitivity or redness after wearing your contact lenses while swimming, contact us immediately for an eye exam at Professional Vision.