Common Types of Eye Emergencies

Eye injuries are more common than you might expect, with around 2.4 million occurring in the United States every year. These can happen anywhere – at work, at home, or during a vacation – although there are some jobs and activities that make them more likely. For example, playing sports where you or an object (like a baseball) travel at high speed, or welding metal. While choosing the right protective eyewear could prevent you from suffering from an avoidable eye injury, knowing what to do in the event that you are affected is invaluable too. 


Here are just some of the most common eye emergencies that require urgent professional care, and what you should do until you are seen by your eye doctor.


Corneal Abrasions


The surface of the eye is very delicate and easily damaged. Corneal scratches, also known as abrasions, are very common. Most often, they are caused by being poked in the eye or rubbing your eyes when you have a small piece of debris, such as some sand, lodged in the eye. Even the mildest corneal abrasion can be very painful, while also causing redness and sensitivity to light. Scratches on the surface of the cornea can also create a wound that is susceptible to infection.


If you experience a cornea abrasion, it’s important to have your eyes assessed as soon as you can. Your eye doctor can recommend the perfect treatment to help your eyes heal and heal. Don’t be tempted to try and treat your eyes yourself as this could make them worse.


Chemical Burns


Many people think of chemicals as being industrial substances, but there are also chemicals found in many of the different products that we use day to day, including hairspray, perfume, cleaning products, antifreeze, pesticides, and more. Getting any of these, or any other substance containing a chemical element, into our eyes could have serious consequences for our vision. Chemical burns can happen directly – such as by failing to pay attention to the nozzle and accidentally spraying an aerosol directly into our eyes. They can also happen by transfer – when you touch a chemical substance and get it onto your fingers and then touch your eyes. Both can be equally as serious.


If you get a chemical substance into your eyes, you must spend at least 15 minutes rinsing your affected eye with cool, clean water. Use a showerhead on a moderate setting or repeatedly fill and pour a jug of clean water into your eye. This will help to wash as much chemical away as possible and could limit the amount of damage you experience. After this, speak to your eye doctor right away.


Penetrating Object in the Eye


It’s normal to get a stray eyelash, a speck of dust, or a few grains of sand in our eyes from time to time. However, sometimes penetrating injuries occur. These are where an object actually penetrates the eye itself. This could be a piece of glass, a fishhook, or a needle. It might not necessarily even have a sharp edge. Unsurprisingly, penetrating injuries are usually very painful and require immediate attention. Cover your eye with a shield – use a makeshift one such as an upturned cup if necessary and get to your emergency eye doctor or ER as soon as you can.


Sudden Vision Loss, Visual Changes, or Painful Eyes


Not all eye emergencies are the result of a trauma like a blow to the face or fall. Sometimes issues can occur that seem to come from nowhere, such as acute glaucoma or retinal detachment, both of which can have permanent consequences for your vision if you don’ seek help right away. If you experience any sudden vision loss, changes to your usual vision or severe eye pain, we recommend that you speak to your eye doctor as soon as possible.



For more tips on what to do in an eye emergency, please speak to our dedicated eyecare experts at Focus Eye Care, P.C., in Hackensack, New Jersey at (201) 654-0602 to schedule an appointment.