People sometimes ignore changes in their vision, hoping it will go away. Flashing lights, a flood of new floaters, a spider web on the edge of the visual field all seem like minor annoyances but may be symptoms of serious problems that could lead to permanent vision loss.
You should immediately seek medical care if you have double vision, vision loss, eye pain, colored circles around lights, new spots, strings, cobwebs, shadows before the eyes, bulging of the eye or swelling of eye tissues, sudden crossed, turned or wandering eye, discharge, crusting or excessive tearing, eyelids stuck together, sudden and persistent blurring or flashes of light.
There are certain warning signs of a potentially serious eye injury. These include tears in the outer ocular walls, bleeding on the surface or inside the eye, vision loss and/or a foreign body lodged in the eye. You should not try to remove a lodged foreign body in the eye without professional assistance. The risk of further injury is great.
Prompt first aid after one of these types of injuries may greatly improve the chance of preserving vision. The first step is to place a protective cover over the eye to prevent further damage. Then seek emergency care as soon as possible.
The type of treatment given depends on the injury. Surgery may be required to repair blunt or penetrating injuries. Any suspicion of a penetrating injury to the eye requires immediate evaluation by an ophthalmologist or in an emergency room.
If you have severe eye pain, you need to be evaluated by an ophthalmologist or an emergency physician immediately. Simple corneal injuries are treated by removing any foreign material and covering the eye with a patch to let the cornea heal. Antibiotic drops or ointments are often used to prevent infection.They may also be prescribed until a corneal abrasion has healed. Rest and patching the affected eye may help. You should avoid driving and other potentially dangerous situations while the eye is patched, since depth perception is altered. Call for an ambulance or take a taxi. You may need drops at the ER that affect your vision and which will prevent you from driving home from the hospital.
Chemical burns from acids or alkalis splashed in the eye are dangerous. Many household chemicals are strong acids or alkalis. Drain and oven cleaners or other caustic products or concentrated acid products are particularly dangerous. You should immediately flush with tap water or any drinkable liquid for 30 minutes, and then rush to the nearest emergency facility. Flush before you call the hospital. Do not try to neutralize the chemical. If you have been struck in the eye, gentle icing with crushed ice is helpful to reduce pain and swelling. If there is severe swelling or bleeding, loss of vision or double vision, see an eye doctor immediately. Do not blow your nose since bacteria from the sinuses may be blown into the tissues around the eye, causing eye infection. This is applicable in cases of socket fracture. Do not rub or apply pressure to the eye. Protect the eye with a paper covering or patch on the way to medical care.
People seldom think to seek treatment for a black eye. If you’ve been in a fight or gotten punched in the eye, even if it doesn’t seem so bad and you put ice on it, you should see a doctor. The bone around the eye may have fractured, or other tissues and nerves may have dislocated from the force.